Thursday, 5 November 2015

Beginning of November

Christmas Saver pay out time!
We're now into the busiest season of the year, with the start of the Christmas Saver pay-outs this week as well as hundreds of members popping in (or going on line) to arrange their Christmas Loans.  It's always a hectic time for our staff and volunteers but also a very satisfying one as we try to play our part in helping our members to "get Christmas sorted" once again.  But please bear with us and be understanding if we take a little longer than usual to deal with applications.  We will get back to everyone just as soon as we can.

International Credit Union Day
On 15 October we marked this important event in the Credit Union Calendar with a New Member Recruitment Session at County Hall in Beverley.  Sandra and Susan from Central Office were there to sign up the employees of East Riding of Yorkshire Council for saving by payroll deduction.  We gained quite a few new members, one of whom was in the money straight away as she won the prize draw - well done Gill Drury, hope you enjoy spending your Say Shopping vouchers!

At Hull Central Carmel put on an international display in the foyer on the theme "People helping People" and gave out goodies to visitors.  When I walked by there was a member with her young son studying the display and he managed to name correctly all the international flags!  When I explained about International Credit Union Day, the Mum said joining us had been one of the best things she had done.

My trip to the seaside
Last week I headed over to Withernsea to take some flyers to the Town Council for door to door distribution and found they'd moved their offices to the Meridian Centre, a fine old building in the town centre that I remember as the Co-op Department Store, before it became a club/pub, and more recently has been under seemingly endless renovation.

Mrs Anne Blake, last year's Mayor, treated me to a guided tour of the building which is a fantastic resource for the town!  The top floor houses a big screen cinema and function suite, while at ground level there's a large meeting room with tables, Council chamber, and offices for hire.  I do hope the people of Withernsea and the surrounding area are going to support this impressive new facility - it deserves to succeed. 

I then popped into a cafe and at the next table a family were discussing money.  They were chatting about their grand-daughter saving with a school bank.  "It's with the Credit Union", they said, "and it's done wonders to teach her the value of money and all about saving regularly".  Of course my ears pricked up and I just had to introduce myself (they might have been our members) but it turned out the grand-daughter lived in Sheffield and saved with one of Sheffield Credit Union's school banks, which apparently are just like ours.

After a quick call at the Council's Withernsea Centre and The Shores to renew contacts, I picked up the latest Seaside Radio Magazine (we are in there with money tips for Christmas!) to read on the bus home.

Hull 2017 - it's not all about a logo
I attended another briefing at Hull Truck about our forthcoming City of Culture year.  The place was packed to the rafters with business leaders and it was the day they unveiled the new Hull 2017 logo.   Well, I've learnt that the one thing that's guaranteed to stir up the good folks of Hull is the launch of a new logo.  We've had loads of them over the years, from crowns to sailing boats, to cogs and silhouettes of buildings, and goodness knows what else.  All resulted in reams of column inches in the Hull Daily Mail as people vented their feelings - mainly negatively - about the latest idea.  And that's before we even mention (dare I) that this one was designed in Sheffield!

But hang on a minute!  It's only a logo - surely it's what we do with our City of Culture opportunity that really matters - the events, the contacts, the foundations laid for a prosperous future.  The logo is just a way of identifying things related to it.   Let's face it, it would be impossible to design one that everybody likes.  And remember, it's not even the "brand" - the "Hull brand" is much more than a logo, it's all the things that make our city what it is, and can be - the experience our visitors will remember about us when they return home.

As I write these notes, I've just returned from Liverpool (had to attend a meeting there about Credit Union regulation).  They were European Capital of Culture in 2008.  As you walk around the city centre, with its impressive architecture (like Hull's), you can see how they have benefited.  The city, once a rundown place with little hope, now has a confident air about it, and looks like somewhere that's on the up.  And so it will be here - so let’s try to be positive.

(I quite like the logo, by the way, it's clever)  Well, now I've got that off my chest . . .

School Banks News
I was very pleased to see that we had 40 new Junior Savers in the month of October.  Many came through the new autumn intake at our primary schools, especially the schools starting Pennies 2 Pounds for the first time, such as Aldbrough.  But some of the established ones have also done well with recruitment.  Giving our youngsters a fun way to save is such a good investment in their future.

Our next launch comes at Appleton Primary School in the North-West corner of Hull, on 12 November.   I must admit to having special interest in this one as I am on the School Governing body there, and it's where my own children enjoyed their early school life.

We recently had an enquiry from Hilderthorpe Primary School in Bridlington about starting a school bank.  Rita was quickly "on the case" and plans are afoot for a launch in January. 

Could you be one of our Directors?
It's the time of year when we invite members to consider volunteering for election to our Board of Directors.  There will be five vacancies to be filled at the AGM on 8 December, and only three existing directors will be eligible to apply, leaving two clear vacancies to be contested for.

If the idea of being part of a Board (team) helping to decide the strategy and policies of one of the most successful and forward-looking credit unions in Britain appeals to you, why not put yourself forward?  

You can find out more about the role of Credit Union director on our website.  You'll need to commit a bit of time (but it can easily be combined with a job or other voluntary activities) and we are looking for people who are passionate about credit unions and what they stand for.   It's an important role but, guess what, you won't get paid for it!  It's completely voluntary (although travel and out of pocket expenses can be reimbursed).   Imagine being a director of a bank and not getting paid any fee, never mind a fat-cat bonus!  Well, it's one of the things that makes us different, and, as many of our members would say, better than a bank.

If you're still unsure about it, one of our directors, Emma, has written about her experiences as a recently-elected director of HEYCU.  Read it here.   You are also welcome to call me for an informal chat if you wish.

Anyone who wishes to stand will need to get their Nomination Form to the CU Central Office by 6 pm on Monday 23 November. 

Remembrance Day
On Wednesday 11 November at 11 am we will take part in the two minute silence to commemorate those who gave their lives in the service of the country.  In Hull the start and end of this act of remembrance is traditionally marked by the firing of cannon in the city centre.

TV Screen - Scunthorpe Branch
Have you been into our Scunthorpe Branch recently?  If so, you'll probably have seen the TV screen over the counter, like the ones we have in Hull Central.  We use the screens to show changing messages that will interest our members while they are waiting to be served.  It saves plastering the walls with lots of notices that can soon get out of date.

Rent Direct and Jam Jar Accounts go-live
HEYCU is working with Hull City Council to pilot a Rent Direct service in readiness for the launch of Universal Credit in the city early next year.   Universal Credit, the new state benefit replacing six other welfare payments, will be paid monthly and tenants will be responsible for making sure their rent is paid on time.  That’s where we come in.  Hull City Council tenants will be able to set up a Rent Direct account to receive their Universal Credit.  We will make sure their rent is paid when due and the spare funds will be made available either loaded on to a Prepaid Debit Card, transferred to a bank account or collected from a branch in cash.  
Tenants using this service will have peace of mind knowing that their rent is sorted without effort or fuss.  What’s more, they know that any money left over is actually theirs.   Hull City Council is supporting the scheme, so that it can be provided for their tenants free of charge.  

Alongside this service is a Jam Jar account which enables users, for a fee of less than £1 a week, to let the Credit Union look after other regular payments (as well as rent), so that users never need worry about bank charges or missing payments again.   It’s a hassle free way to take control of your finances, and can be used by anyone, whether in receipt of wages, benefits or pensions.

For more information on how to set up a Rent Direct or Jam Jar account, contact Hull City Council on 01482 300300, Hull Families Project on 01482 809333 or the Credit Union on 01482 775783.

If you are a landlord and would like to work with us to provide a similar service for your tenants, please get in touch.   Email

Take a fresh look at Credit Union Loans!
This month we are urging anyone thinking about borrowing money to give us a chance to meet their needs.  Try us, rather than your bank, and see if we can offer you a deal that saves you some money.  And you can now apply online!   Take a look at the Loans page of our website and see how easy it is.

As a little “thank you”, we will enter everyone who gets a loan from us in November into a prize draw to win £100.