Thursday, 24 September 2015

Week commencing 21 Sep 2015

It’s all happening at the Credit Union just now, with our busy season about to start, plus it's "year end" next Wednesday!

Driffield 10th Anniversary
Last Wednesday I was proud to attend the celebrations at our Driffield Branch.  In my speech I named and paid tribute to those community-minded residents who founded the branch back in 2005 (at an event in the Blue Bell Inn) and, joined by others over the years, have run it with flair and dedication ever since.  Special achievements have included:
·        pioneering our primary School Banks, which developed into a model that has successfully spread out across  East Yorkshire';
·        playing a big part in the life of the community, raising funds for a whole host of good causes including National Children's Homes, Age Concern, Citizens Advice, Driffield in Bloom, Yorkshire Air Ambulance, Macmillian Nurses, Friends of Guiding, a local skate park, old folks' tea and an overseas flood disaster fund.  
The "birthday party" was well attended and it was good to welcome Paul Rounding of Driffield Town Council (who made the prize draw) and Marc Hall, Financial Inclusion Officer of East Riding of Yorkshire Council (who helped me cut the fabulous decorated cake).
Well done to our Driffield Branch volunteers, and here's to the next ten years!

Lloyds Banking Group
I was invited to join the managers from the region's Lloyds and Halifax banking branches at a couple of training sessions to brief them on our Credit Union.  Lloyds Banking Group recognises that the credit union sector provides a very important service to many people in the UK and are providing a £4 million fund to support its development.  In 2014 we were successful in our application for a Lloyds/Credit Union Foundation grant to assist with our North Lincolnshire merger. 

As part of this ongoing partnership, Lloyds and Halifax have agreed to promote credit union membership to their customers in a leaflet available in their branches which highlights our services, for example loans that are not part of their product range.  They are also interested in sharing business expertise with us by involving bank volunteers in credit unions.  As this initiative develops, it will help UK credit unions to improve and grow significantly over the next four years.

Eastern Raiders Football Club - your team!
The new football season is now well and truly under way. Many of you will be following the fortunes of your favourite high-flyers on "Match of the Day", while fans in these parts will be spurring on the Tigers to regain their place in the Premier League. However, in this piece it's to the East Riding County League that I want to direct your attention.

For HEYCU has just become the proud sponsors of Eastern Raiders FC, an up-and-coming team in Division Two.  The Raiders are based in Goole but play all over East Yorkshire in their quest for league and cup victory. They look splendid in their new purple and white kit featuring our Credit Union name and logo, and it's brought them luck so far, as the first match – away against Hull’s Apollo Rangers – resulted in a decisive 3-0 win, followed by an 8-4 victory over Patrington last Saturday, taking them to the top of the league!   You can follow the weekly fortunes of your sponsored team on our social media pages, so if you are a HEYCU member why not become a supporter and give them a shout?  Go Raiders!

Christmas is coming . . .
It hardly seems five minutes since we were on holiday, relaxing in the garden and enjoying the summer, but now our thoughts are turning to Christmas! 

Many members are already planning ahead and thinking about a Christmas Loan.  If you need to borrow say £400 to spread the cost of your festive spend over the year, you won't find a cheaper deal than your Credit Union.  With repayments of just £9.18 a week, our loans are many times cheaper than a doorstep loan, and more convenient, with payments direct from your bank account or your wages on the day you get your income.  What's more you can now apply on line.   Tell your friends and neighbours. . . why pay more?

Northern Lincolnshire Partnership role
There's just a few days left to apply to be our Northern Lincolnshire Partnership Officer.   All the details are on our website and if this interesting role appeals to you, please get your application form in without delay.

Members' Survey 2015 responses
I've now replied personally to those members who raised issues in our Members' Survey that I felt needed an individual response.  I promised to share a selection, as you may find them of general interest, so here goes:

Member's comment:
"I actually know nothing about the credit union at all. My Mum is a member and said it was a good way of saving some money for Christmas.  When I went into my local branch I was given an application form and a receipt for the deposit and that was that. I now pay in every week by standing order but I still don't know what the CU is all about. I didn't know it helped the local community, I just thought it was an easier way of saving money without all the red tape banks usually have. Perhaps it's my fault for not being more informed but I also don't feel the CU sold itself to me, and I'd never heard of it before my Mum mentioned it."

Our response:
"Thank you for your comments, from the viewpoint of a new member, which make some very good points.  We do want our members to fully understand what the CU is all about, especially the fact that they are more than just customers - they are member-owners with various rights and responsibilities. I am glad your Mum was able to introduce you to us, but you are right we should tell you what membership means when you join.  If we get it right, you will feel properly informed but not bombarded with too much information all at once, which some people don't like. 

"If you have access to the internet, you can learn a lot from our website and, as you have given us your email address, you will be sent twice yearly E-Newsletters, an invitation to our AGM, and a member survey.  As a result of your comments, we have decided to reintroduce a leaflet called Your Credit Union, which will in future be given to new members as they join."

Wearable banking devices
I've heard of people wearing their hearts on their sleeves but never their bank!  According to a publication that crossed my desk the other day, a major building society is pioneering the use of an Apple Watch or Android wrist device for customers to check their balances and move money between accounts.  The wearable app can even be voice activated, so no need to input a password, you simply speak a command and your balance appears on screen.  Since wearable banking arrived on the scene, the response has been sensational, my source explains. 

I was interested to learn that the society's employees play a big role in shaping these deveopments. Earlier this year staff took part in a mass trial of the contactless payment wristband.  Apparently, they were sorry to lose their band when the test ended!  What a great idea - if your staff are enthusiastic about a new product or service it will rub off on the customers.

It's fascinating how quickly technology is changing everyday life, in ways we'd never have imagined. Truly amazing!  Someone will be inventing a wheel next, I am sure.

Pennies 2 Pounds School wins a Centre of Excellence in Education award
Congratulations to Spring Cottage Primary School who were recently awarded excellence status as a Centre for Financial Education by Young Enterprise. The school successfully launched their school bank last year in response to requests from parents for a safe way to save up for expensive residential trips.

The club was initially offered to Year 5 pupils saving for their special end-of-year outing. Soon other family members wanted to join, alongside school staff who enjoyed the convenience of a savings bank at their workplace.

Two pupils volunteered to help run the bank and were very proud to be given their volunteer badges at the end of their training. This sparked great interest among the other pupils. The teachers capitalised on this enthusiasm by running classes in money management.

Soon the word spread among the local community. We were invited to display information about the Credit Union at the Summer Fair. This proved to be one of the busiest stalls as families and local residents were keen to find out more about a safe and convenient alternative to high street banking. Plans are now underway to recruit more volunteers and to launch a roll out programme of saving to the wider school community.

Brownie Badge for Junior Volunteer
Congratulations to Camille Jenkins, one of our youngest volunteers for successfully working towards her Number Fun badge.  Camille is a keen Brownie when she is not busy running the school bank. She was looking for a project to use her new skills during the school holiday.   A Number Fun Brownie Badge is awarded for:
·        Helping at an event where you have to collect money and give change;
·        Keeping a record of money you are given and spend during one month;
·        Knowing how to open a savings account and finding out about one savings account.

Pennies 2 Pounds offers experience in all these areas. Perhaps you know a young saver who may also enjoy working towards this award?

Junior Savers Autumn Competition
Watch our website for details of the latest competition for our Junior Savers.  We'll be inviting them to find out about the currencies used in other countries. Children over the age of seven will have an additional challenge to draw the flags of the countries named in the competition. Vexillology is the term given to the study of flags, a good word to note if you are taking part in a quiz! 

Could a Community Account help your club or group?
We're getting some great comments from users of our Community AccountSome of our local clubs and groups use it to deposit the grants they receive from funding organisations such as the Council, Big Lottery and Comic Relief.  One says: "As Treasurer of our Residents Association I can rest easy knowing that our funds will be looked after at the Credit Union by people we can trust. Then, when we need to pay our bills, it's so easy, we just send in a signed request and the Credit Union sends a BACS payment without us having to bother with cheques."   Worth finding out more? 

Thursday, 10 September 2015

7 Sept 2015

This week’s Blogger – w/c 7 Sep 2015

Summer holidays
I hope you have had a good summer and managed to enjoy a break.  Now it's back to business and I will aim to bring you up to date, every couple of weeks or so, with the happenings at HEYCU:

Member Survey results
A big thank you to all those members who took the time and trouble to complete our 2015 Member Survey.  I won't repeat the survey findings here, as you can read them on our website (About page) but we were very pleased not only that members scored us highly for most of the general satisfaction categories but also had lots of ideas and suggestions to help us improve our (or should I say your) business and do even better in future.   It shows just how much our loyal members care about their credit union and want it to succeed.  How many bank customers would feel the same about their bank, I wonder?

I can assure you that the Credit Union's directors do read all these comments very thoroughly and take note of what our members say.  We had a full discussion on the survey at our Board meeting on Tuesday, and the directors naturally challenged me (that's their job!) to act on many of the findings.  It was very timely, as the September Board meeting is the one where we approve our new 3-Year Business Plan and the financial budgets for the year ahead. 

Over the coming month I shall be sending a personal reply to those members who sent special individual comments or suggestions in the survey - having gone to that trouble, they deserve a response.  It may not always be possible to adopt every idea, but we try to do what we can.  I will feature some of those ideas, and our response, in future Blogs. 

Job Opportunity - Partnership Development
We are looking for a special person, with a passion for the credit union ethos and great organising and communicating skills, to help us develop our business in Northern Lincolnshire.  This exciting part-time opportunity, over a three year period (which could be extended, depending on its success), has been funded by our partners Winterton 2022 and North Lincolnshire Council.  To find out more, visit our Employment Opportunities page.   If you think this is the right role for you, or you know someone else who would match our needs, we need applications by 28 September.  Please use the application form, no CVs will be accepted.

Driffield Tenth Anniversary
We're all looking forward to helping the volunteers of our Driffield branch celebrate their tenth anniversary of serving the town and surrounding community next Wednesday 16 September from 10 am.  If you are in town that day, do pop in and say "hello".  The event is being held at our Credit Union Office at 2-4 Market Walk (that's the Town Council HQ).  There'll be light refreshments and free-to-enter competitions and everyone attending will get a free ticket for a prize draw.  I shall be attending, together with some of our directors, so hope to see you there!

Goole Presentation Event
It was great to attend an event at The Courtyard in Goole last Friday, in the presence of many worthy community groups and organisations, for the Yorkshire Water Goole Community Fund presentations.  The £20,000 Community Fund was created by Yorkshire Water to thank local people for their patience while the company's pumping station at Carr Lane was upgraded after the terrible floods in the town in 2012.   To allocate the funds an independent panel was formed from local councillors and representatives from the media and local college, chaired by Andrew Percy MP.

We were delighted to receive an award to provide a laptop for our Goole Pennies2Pounds School Banks project.  Jo will use this fantastic resource to help us operate our school and community savings points and develop materials for use in educating young people about good money management.   Thank you, Yorkshire Water!  And thanks to Diane, one of our P2P volunteers, who accompanied me to the very uplifting event, to receive our cheque.

Schools - Welcome back!
Just a quick "hello" and welcome back to all our Pennies 2 Pounds School Banks, at the start of another academic year.  We will have some new schools joining us this term and we hope the existing school banks will have another successful year, with lots more savers (junior and adult) enrolled.

Northern Lincolnshire Local Members’ Group
I attended the August meeting of this group and there was a lively discussion about how best to grow our business across the county.  Using local Credit Union champions to encourage interest in the work of the credit union was one idea. The positive "can do" attitude of the staff and volunteers at Scunthorpe branch was commented on.  If you live in the area and would like to join the Group, it meets at the branch on the second Thursday each month at 7 pm.  You'd be most welcome!

Let's Help You . . . find somewhere to live
A new website has been launched to help tenants find affordable rental property across the Hull City Council area.  It's free, quick and easy to use.  You can use it to find one, two, three, four or more bedroomed houses, flats or shared accommodation in an area you'd most like to live.

The website has a useful calculator giving you accurate information about housing allowance rates and you can search in specific areas or throughout the whole of Hull in one go.  You can save property search criteria, such as number of bedrooms, house or flat, postcode, to your profile and store favourite properties, and even opt to get weekly emails showing properties coming up to match your search settings.  That way you can be one of the first to view a tenancy.

Once you find a property, contact the landlord and arrange to view. The service is available to anyone searching for rented accommodation whether receiving housing benefit or not, and there are alternative ways to use it if you don't have internet access, including a free Android app and free iOS app.

Heritage Open Days 2015
Do you like looking round historic buildings, taking part in guided tours or listening to expert talks on local history?   If, like me, you enjoy learning about our fascinating heritage and you are in Hull this weekend (11-13 September), you are in for a treat!

It's that time of year when lots of Hull's interesting buildings throw open their doors and let the public in for free to have a look around and explore our great city's history.  There's about 70 places to visit, ranging from the ever popular Holy Trinity Church to the BBC Building, HM Prison, Annison's Stables in Witham and the factory of Ideal Boilers.  There's some quirky ones to discover too, such as a 1932 Eco-House in Inglemire Avenue and something called the KC Lighthouse, which I've never heard of!  Together with a range of guided history tours such as along Beverley Road and down by the River Hull, there's far too much choice for my liking altogether, so it'll be fun deciding what to miss out. 

We have Hull Civic Society to thank for arranging this family event as always (together with the building owners of course) and more details can be found at

Other Services page
Have a look at this new page on our website - it gives information about some of the things we offer that you might not know about - including Say Shopping Vouchers and exclusive deals on electrical goods.

Could a Community Account help your club or group?

We have a very handy deposit account for clubs, groups, societies and organisations of all kinds.  Our Community Account offers a "no fuss" way for your group to look after its funds and make payments as they are needed.  And of course you know that those funds are being used for the benefit of your own community.