Monday, 22 June 2015

This week’s news – w/e 19 June 2015

It’s time to celebrate Co-operatives Fortnight!
The next two weeks (20 June to 4 July) are Co-operatives Fortnight, an annual celebration designed to reveal to everyone the strength and diversity of the co-op sector of the UK economy.  What’s this got to do with our Credit Union, you may ask.  Well, credit unions are co-operatives. 
From high street retailers to community owned pubs, fan-owned football clubs to farmer-controlled businesses, co-operatives are everywhere. There are over 6,000 across the UK and together they contribute a staggering £37 billion to the British economy. 

Often co-operatives look like any other business. What makes them unique is that they are owned and run by ordinary people. Not investors or fat-cat shareholders, but people like you and me – customers, employees, residents, farmers, artists, taxi drivers . . .

Each member of a co-operative has an equal say in how the business is run and shares in its profits. Globally, co-operatives give nearly one billion people control things that matter to them. 
It’s no surprise that co-operatives are local, loved and trusted and we at Hull & East Yorkshire Credit Union are proud to be one.


It’s the ethics that count
Continuing on a similar theme, I was interested in recent comments by Sir Stuart Hampson, who was 14 years at the helm of one of Britain’s most successful businesses, the John Lewis Partnership (a firm owned entirely by its workers).   Sir Stuart argued that it was outdated to think businesses could choose to focus either on ethics or on profit as a route to success.  He said progressive firms understood that the only way to achieve long term sustainability was by being a business recognised for its strong ethics and values.   

When asked what ethics contributed to a positive culture, he said the key thing was to act with integrity at all times.  By doing so, admitting when it was wrong and doing its best to put things right, John Lewis had earned tremendous trust from its customers.  During the economic downturn they continued shopping there, knowing they could rely on it, while other firms lost ground.   It’s a powerful message and one that we know many credit union members feel passionate about.


School banks update
Our latest Pennies 2 Pounds School Bank has got off to an excellent start at Spring Cottage Primary School, Sutton-on-Hull.  The Year 5s are saving up for their final school trip at the end of next year, which can be a big outlay for families, so the savings facility is a great help.  Our fabulous team of volunteer helpers includes two year 5 pupils.  The school is very keen on financial education and they seem a “money savvy” bunch, with one pupil insisting on doing some research on our Credit Union to make sure his savings would be safe before depositing any money (quite right too!).   Another young helper asked Mum to take her into town to visit the Credit Union bank and check it out (we will give her a guided tour).   

Meanwhile the St. Marks Pre-School at Anlaby P2P, now in its second week, is doing well with lots of children filling their money boxes.   There’s a bit of competition going on between the adult and junior savers apparently, but the juniors are streets ahead as they’re busy collecting up any loose change they find around the house!


Schools Summer Competition
Our schools competition for the children at Pennies 2 Pounds Clubs is now open to enter, so why not have a go, there's some good prizes to be won.  There's a separate competition for Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 pupils - just make sure the entries are handed in to your school bank or children's centre by Friday 3 July.


Payroll partner campaign
We recently launched a campaign to recruit more local businesses to become Payroll Partners.  Payroll partners are firms who let their workers save with us straight from their wages. 
It's a worthwhile staff benefit helping working people to manage their money well by putting aside some regular savings each time they get paid.  They can also repay any credit union loans (privately) the same way.   As the money comes out at source, the employee doesn't miss it, and before long they've built up an amazing nest egg – just right for Christmas, holidays or just a rainy day.   It's also ideal for "secret saving" (don’t tell the partner!) for that family celebration or holiday of a lifetime!

Existing payroll partners include Hull City Council, the HICA GroupEast Riding of Yorkshire Council and Hull College Group - with hundreds of staff using the service to great effect.  But we’re keen to have more.   Payroll savers are good with money, but also happy, unstressed workers. 

Through Hull & Humber Chamber of Commerce, we've sent an invitation to over 1,400 employers in the Humber Region to get in touch about offering this service.  It's easy to operate, and costs the firm next to nothing, like any deduction schemes.    If you are an employer, please call us or email to request a Payroll Partner Information pack.  And if you work for a firm that doesn’t offer the service yet, why not ask your HR people to consider it?


North Lincolnshire Homes (part of Ongo Partnership)
One of our newest payroll partners invited us in for a sign up day at Meridian House, Scunthorpe last Monday. It was a big success, with a great response from those who dropped in.  Even the manager joined, taking advantage of the special offer on our Christmas Saver account to match the first deposit up to £10 (open until 31 July). 

Quite a number of colleagues also signed up to be Credit Union Champions.  This means they'll get our monthly newsletter with all the latest CU information to share with their workmates.  It's perfect for pinning up on staff notice boards to encourage others to join.

We look forward to the next sign up day at Crosby Employment on 25 June.


Business Start-up Loans up and running
This week we’ve also launched our new Business Start-up Loan product.   Offered in partnership with Leeds City Credit Union and the Start-up Loans Company, we now have something to appeal to people across the Humber Region who are planning a new business venture, or run a business within its first two years of trading.

Business Start-up Loans can be for up to £25,000, depending on how many people are involved in the business and are repayable over up to 5 years with an interest rate of 6.19% APR.   The loan comes with free business mentoring, advice and access to special offers.  

All kinds of businesses can apply, so whether you are planning to open a shop or cafĂ©, or a budding designer, baker, hairdresser or joiner needing some equipment to get going, this could be the help you are looking for.    To allow us to consider your plans, you’ll need to let us see your business plan and cash flow forecast.    Take a look at our website which has samples of these documents.   

So, come along, all you keen entrepreneurs in the Humber Region, we’re waiting to hear from you!


Our low-cost Freedom Loan offers a helping hand

With the summer finally here, perhaps it’s time for a nice little holiday.  Would a Credit Union Freedom Loan help?   Remember, we offer the best deal around on small loans (check our Loan Calculator if you don’t believe me)!

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

It's National Volunteer Week!

Hat's off to our volunteers
My notes have a distinct volunteering flavour this week as we are celebrating National Volunteer Week  Credit Unions rely on volunteer effort to reach into communities that it just wouldn't be possible to serve otherwise.   I'd like to pay tribute to everyone who volunteers with us and helps to make HEYCU the strong "family" that it has become today.

Welcome to new director
A warm welcome to Kate Pike, who has joined our Board of Directors as a co-opted representative from Northern Lincolnshire Branch to serve until the AGM in December.  Kate was the Secretary of North Lincolnshire CU before it merged in April.   Credit unions are of course unique as financial businesses for having an entirely voluntary (but nevertheless well trained) Board of Directors.

Community Volunteering Road Show 2015
East Riding of Yorkshire Council and ERVAS (the volunteer agency) are hosting a Community and Volunteering Road Show this month, visiting towns across the county to promote community volunteering.  We’ll have a presence at the Goole roadshow at Boothferry precinct (near the library) on Thursday 4 June, so if you are in the area do pop along and say hello.

Driffield Tenth Anniversary
It scarcely seems possible but ten years have slipped by since a group of community-minded Driffield folk approached us about starting a credit union in the town. Several of them still actively volunteer at the HEYCU Driffield Branch that their efforts brought to life, and do so with great success.  Plans are afoot to mark the 10th anniversary in September but, for now, congratulations to them all.

Winterton 2022
We have started working with a new group, Winterton 2022.  A community of 5,000 people to the north of Scunthorpe, Winterton has been awarded £1 million of Big Lottery funding to improve the town.  On 1st June we met to start planning for credit union services, including school banks and a local contact point, as part of this project.  Two of our active volunteers - David and Kate - ran a stall at Winterton Street Party on bank holiday Monday, to meet local residents, so who knows, this might be our next "Driffield"!

Pennies 2 Pounds update
Remember our Tour de Yorkshire competition for the schools?   I am pleased to announce that the overall winner was Charlie Ivens of Northfield Infants School at Driffield.  Well done to Charlie, who wins a box of cycling-related goodies, and thanks to everyone who entered.
We're just finalising our Pennies 2 Pounds Summer Term competition which will have different challenges for KS1 and KS2 pupils and there will be gift vouchers and savings deposits to be won!   Details from P2P volunteers or on our website shortly.
Carmel (East Riding Project Officer) attended an event at Bishop Burton College designed to foster independence as the students prepare to leave college.  She enjoyed meeting them and, as always, some good links were made.
We are delighted that Patrington Primary School in Holderness are opening their school bank on Thursday 11 June with St Marks Pre-School at Anlaby soon after, on Friday 12 June.

Volunteer Training
There's a new training course on our website Volunteers page which we hope our volunteers will be tempted to sample!   It's called A Credit Union Member - more than just a Customer, and explains what the CU difference really means.  Volunteers can take the course in their own time, in the comfort of their own home, although group sessions can be arranged at branches if desired.  After completing the course, you can download a short quiz, fill it in and either post or email it to info@hullandeycu.co.uk. We will give you some feedback and send you a nice certificate to recognise your efforts.    There's a course on Data Security on there too.  

Hull City of Culture 2017
Last Thursday I followed the crowd from the local business community thronging into Hull Truck Theatre to hear an update from Martin Green, the Chief Executive of Hull City of Culture 2017.  Martin and his team are busy developing an exciting four-season themed programme of events, which should not only thrill and enthuse the people of our great city but also attract many thousands of visitors to explore this part of the world for the first time.  An impromptu speech by Councillor Steve Brady, Hull City Council Leader, about the difference this cultural activity will make, giving people different experiences outside their everyday lives, was most inspiring. It was refreshing to witness a politician speaking freely, from the heart, not using a ready-made, clinical, risk-free script put together by someone else, but instead just "telling it as it is"!
If any member has any bright ideas about how our Credit Union - a significant member-owned business based in Hull - might support our City of Culture, I'd love to hear from you.  
One of the aims of the Year is to create a lasting legacy of benefits, and given that there will be scope to form lots of new businesses within both the cultural sector and the wider tourism-support industry, with the potential to grow and prosper long after 2017 ends, perhaps our new Business Start-up Loans facility could be of interest to those budding entrepreneurs?   
     
Quids in Project getting there
I had a meeting with the Quids In Project Team to find out how this project is doing.  For those who don't know Quids In is a multi-agency project run by Hull and East Riding Citizens Advice Bureau to help Hull's social tenants to make the most of their money.   Our Credit Union is one of the project partners and our staff member Juliana serves as a "banking buddy", helping people who’ve had difficulties obtaining bank accounts to open one that meets their needs.

Here's how Quids In recently helped a struggling tenant in the city with his high bills and debt.  The team helped him:
  • save £20 a month on gas and electricity;
  • apply for a water meter (cheaper for someone living alone);
  • pay off his debt to Yorkshire Water with a grant from the Yorkshire Water Trust;
  • sort out his other debts;
  • cut his other costs; and
  • get the help he was entitled to.
He is now less worried about money and feels he will be able to stay out of debt now he has more money in his pocket every week.

Coud Quids In help someone you know?   Contact Quids In on 01482 224511 or quidsin@hull-eastridingcab.org.uk

Withernsea's moment of fame
It was good to see dear little Withernsea, where we have a volunteer-run branch, featured on TV last week, when a group of feisty ladies called the Ruby Red Performers reached the semi-finals of Britain's Got Talent.  Apparently their adventures will be in the next edition of Seaside Radio magazine, and so will our Credit Union.  Look out for it!

Newly elected or re-elected?
Although my last blog was just after the General Election I forgot to congratulate all those who were elected across our common bond either to serve in Parliament or on a local authority.  We are proud that several MPs and Councillors in our region are Members of our Credit Union.
I am sure those elected realise what a privilege it is to represent the people (just as I did during my ten years as an elected director of The Co-operative Group), and what a weight of expectation there is to deliver on those promises!  Best of luck to you all.

Spread the cost - with a low cost Freedom Loan!
Did you know your Credit Union offers the best deal around on small loans?  It's often been mentioned by the Money Saving Expert and others, that we are many times cheaper than typical doorstep or online credit.   Why pay more than you need to for credit?  Check out our Freedom Loan today!