Friday, 23 December 2016

JOHN’S BLOG – 23 DEC 2016

After a long “silence”, I am now able to resume my Blog, which throughout 2017 aims to keep you informed on what’s new and what’s happening at Hull & East Yorkshire Credit Union (HEYCU).   Keep checking in for regular updates, visit our Facebook page and Twitter feeds and join in the conversation!

REFLECTIONS ON 2016

For our Credit Union 2016 was not the easiest of years, but we did have some notable successes, as the directors and I were able to report to our well-attended AGM in Hull Guildhall recently. 

We were proud to be selected, alongside our friends at Commsave and Voyager Alliance Credit Unions, to serve the staff of the Department for Work & Pensions, a major civil service department.   Although the scheme has only been running since July, over 2,100 DWP staff have already joined one of the three credit unions.

At HEYCU it’s been our pleasure to welcome over 600 new members who work in Government offices and Job Centres across Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland.  All are saving with us every month direct from their pay, and we’ve been able to help some afford Christmas with our competitive loan deals. 

In 2016 we also rolled out a new affiliation with Co-operative Energy.  Many of our members (me included) are saving up to £250 a year after switching their gas and electricity to this leading ethical utility provider.  When you switch to the Co-op you can become a member (just like the credit union) and can access lots of other member benefits too.  You can have your say and vote as a part-owner of the business.   It’s the way lots of other services ought to be run – railways and buses for example – with real consumer power!

We’ve made a good start with our Development Plan to expand across Northern Lincolnshire.   North Lindsey College and Lebus Upholstery became payroll partners, and at Ongo Homes we have a group of staff called Credit Union Champions helping to promote us to their tenants and staff colleagues.  They are really keen.  We also opened two new school banks in Winterton, where we are working with the Winterton 2022 Project.

It was sad to hear that the small Grimsby-based North East Lincolnshire Credit Union had closed down.  Its 600 members were paid back all their savings by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.  However, it is good to know that we have been able to help some of their members to find an alternative by joining our branch in Scunthorpe High Street.

You can read more about our busy year in our Annual Newsletter.

DON’T BE CAUGHT OUT BY A “DIDDLUM”

Did you read about the workers at a West Hull factory whose Christmas was spoilt because a colleague had allegedly run off with their “diddlum” money?   Over £10,000 was taken, apparently, from around 16 people.

Sad tales like this seem to crop up year after year.  They are especially cruel because the people are doing the right thing – planning ahead and saving up, little and often, all year round to help them avoid money stress when the festive spending season arrives.

These informal Christmas savings clubs, often called “diddlums” in this part of the world, have long been part of the local heritage.   It’s where a set of workmates, neighbours or club members all trust their savings to someone willing to keep the records, look after and bank the cash, and organise the big Christmas payout. 

Mostly everything turns out fine but it’s that key word “trust” that can catch you out.  If the worst happens, “diddlum” savers have no redress, because these savings clubs rely entirely on trust and have no legal backing.

There are alternatives.  HEYCU runs a popular Christmas Saver account, which is easy to join.  Money can be paid in at a branch, or by bank standing order, or even direct from your pay if you work for one of our payroll partners.  There’s no minimum deposit, and the money is safely “locked away” until November.  It is paid out either in cash or by bank transfer, so you can shop around for bargains, not be tied to one shop as you would be with savings stamps.   The money is 100% protected just like in a bank.  Check it out at (link to Christmas Saver page)

Christmas is always an expensive time.   Saving ahead in a reputable scheme is the best way to make it as stress free as possible.

SEE US IN ST. STEPHENS IN THE NEW YEAR

We are one of several local organisations taking part in a Community Roadshow in St Stephen’s Shopping Centre from Monday 2nd to Sunday 8th January, 2017.

Shoppers passing through the Centre on their way to the January Sales won’t be able to miss us, as there will be a big screen, positioned near H&M and Next, on which we shall be showcasing our new 40 second promotional video.  The aim is to tell the wider world what our Credit Union is and does, and encourage people to pop into to our Central Office in Brook Street (which happens to be just across the road) to meet our friendly team.

We shall be handing out leaflets about our services, and inviting people to complete a quick Quiz which they can drop in a box to be in with a chance to win a £50 Shopping Voucher.

If you are in the city centre during the first week in January, do come inside St. Stephen’s and say hello.  

SAY NO TO LOAN SHARKS

Starting on 9th January at Boothferry Primary School in Goole, we are working with the England Illegal Money Lending Team to encourage local families to start saving as their new year’s resolution instead of borrowing from illegal money lenders.  Pupils at the school will receive a visit from Sid the Shark and be involved in some fun activities to raise awareness of good money practice.

Working with East Riding of Yorkshire’s Trading Standards, and using proceeds of crime money (confiscated from convicted loan sharks), the Team are also sponsoring new Credit Union accounts.

The first fifty people to join our Credit Union at the schools visited from 9th January to 1st March and save for two months will qualify for a savings boost of £25.00.

It is estimated that 310,000 households nationally are borrowing from illegal money lenders, many of whom charge exorbitant rates of interest to trap people into a spiral of debt.  Loan sharks often resort to bully tactics such as violence, threats or intimidation to make their victims repay.

People are urged never to use unlicensed lenders who:
·         refuse to tell the borrower how much they owe, how long they will be repaying for, or the APR;
·         don’t give paperwork;
·         add on extra charges which increase the debt; or
·         take items such as passports, bank cards or driving licences as “security”.

If you know of anyone operating in this way, you can call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222, text a report to 078600 22116 or email reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk

WELCOME TO HULL’S SPECIAL YEAR AS UK CITY OF CULTURE

After all the frantic planning, it’s nearly here.  The year when our City comes under the spotlight as the nation’s City of Culture.   There is so much to look forward to, and already we can see how things are changing for the better, as the huge repaving scheme for the city centre streets approaches its conclusion.  It is starting to look fantastic (my only tiny niggle is that I wish they had renewed the dreadful uneven pavement outside our Brook Street branch.  But never mind!).

Here at HEYCU we’d like to congratulate everyone who has been involved with the city centre transformation on doing such a splendid job.  We can’t wait to invite our credit union friends from the UK and beyond to come and have a look round our wonderful City!



Tuesday, 23 February 2016

February 2016

Junior Savers visit HEYCU Central Office

It was a lovely occasion last week when two of our Junior Savers and School Bank helpers, Camille and Sam Jenkins of Spring Cottage Primary School, popped in with their mum, Liz, during their half term week to visit their new “big bank” – our Brook Street branch in Hull city centre.  What a joy it was to meet them and what a credit they are to their family and their school.  Here are the beautifully written letters they sent after their visit:

Today I went to the Credit Union Bank with my mum and brother.  We had a tour of the behind the scenes working of the Bank.  We got to meet everyone, even the Bank Manager, John.  We also got to have a chocolate chip biscuit and a cuppa in the staff room!  Everybody was very friendly.  Can you believe it, me and my brother are the youngest ever volunteers?  John let us stick stickers on to his map to represent new schools joining.  From Camille Jenkins – age 8.

Dear John, thank you for spending the time to show us your bank.  I learned there is more than meets the eye to a bank.  I enjoyed meeting the bank staff, they told me what they did and how they did it.  I hope to see you again.  Kind regards, Sam D. Jenkins, age 10.

Camille and Sam showed us all the badges they had earned with the Brownies and Cubs, and I learnt that Camille would like to be a writer and Sam a scientist one day.  It seems to me they are well on the way already – all the very best to them both.

Save on bus travel with the new Hull Card
We’re always on the look out for ideas that help our members to make their money go further, so if you travel around the city and suburbs on the buses quite often, the new Hull Card could be “just the ticket”.   If your regular journeys involved connecting travel on Stagecoach and East Yorkshire buses, it’s always been an irritation that each bus company had its own separate and different card schemes, but now that’s not a problem because the Hull Card can be used on both. 

You buy a Hull Card for £13 and it lasts for seven consecutive days, offering unlimited travel on Stagecoach and East Yorkshire buses anywhere in Hull, Cottingham, Willerby, Kirk Ella, Anlaby, Hessle and Wawne.   To get your Hull Card pop into the Travel Shop at Paragon Interchange.   Hop on board a bus and place your card on the card reader.  You can top it up for another 7 days travel either on the bus or at the Travel Shop.

Payroll partnerships are proving popular
We are thrilled to be working with Lebus Upholstery, a Scunthorpe-based manufacturer of domestic furnishings, to help their 500+ workers to save with us by payroll deduction.  Lebus is the latest employer to recognise that credit union membership can be a valued feature of a staff benefits package.  We’ll be holding our first sign-up session in the works canteen on Thursday 25 February from 11 am to 2 pm.

We’ve had a payroll partnership with the HICA Group, the Hull-based leading operator of care homes, domestic care and retirement villages, for some time.  We recently sent them information about our fantastic Christmas Saver £10 bonus scheme which has resulted in some new members. 

Pennies 2 Pounds update
Our first ever school bank in Bridlington opened at Hilderthorpe Primary School at the beginning of February.  Rita (Schools Co-ordinator) and the four new volunteers had an extremely busy first morning, with 18 children and several adults enrolling on the day.

The following week all eyes were on the North Lincolnshire town of Winterton, where we opened our first two Pennies 2 Pounds Clubs at the Infants and Junior Schools.  Carmel (NL Partnership Officer) tells me the response at both schools was overwhelming and we must have signed up at least 60 junior savers and several adults already! 

Welcome to Councillor Hannigan
Our Scunthorpe Branch recently hosted a visit by Councillor Richard Hannigan, the Cabinet Member for Policy and Finance on North Lincolnshire Council and a member for Ferry Ward.  After signing up as a member, Councillor Hannigan praised all concerned for the progress we’ve made since the historic merger of NLCU with HEYCU last year.  We were keen to show him how the funding provided by the Council, Lloyds Bank/Credit Union Foundation, and the Credit Union Expansion Fund had been well used to embark on our development programme to promote credit union services across the region, grow membership, savings and loans, and make sure we are here to serve the people of Northern Lincolnshire for many generations to come.

Co-operative Energy
Our in-branch sessions when Tim of the Co-operative Energy met members and helped them to switch to cheaper energy supplies proved so popular that we are going to repeat them in April.  Watch our website for the dates when he will visit your branch.  So far well over 30 members have switched to the Co-op including me!  I was amazed when Tim told me I could save over £230 a year by moving my gas and electric supplies from the Big 6.  I will also become a member of the Midcounties Co-operative and qualify for a profit-sharing dividend.

If you missed Tim’s visit, don’t worry, you can find out more and get your own free quote by clicking on the Energy banner on the HEYCU website or phoning 0800 093 7511 quoting “HEYCU”.  Why not give it a try, you may be surprised how much you could save?

ABCUL
HEYCU is proud to be a member of the Association of British Credit Unions, which represents the vast majority of credit unions in Britain.   As our trade association,  ABCUL can represent the interests of credit unions and their members to governments, civil servants, regulators, local authorities, political parties and a wide range of other decision makers.   It is good to know that whenever new laws or regulations are made that may affect our movement,  ABCUL is invited to comment on the proposals and the law-makers can rely on them to respond with responsible, carefully-thought out views that help to enhance the final outcome. 

Your President and I were recently invited a meeting of ABCUL’s larger credit unions.  These meetings enable credit unions serving a diverse range of common bonds to come together, discuss key topics (such as how to expand our loan books or improve services for our members), and share good practice, as we all work hard to achieve the long term success and sustainability of the businesses in our care.

It will soon be time for credit unions to assemble in Manchester for ABCUL’s Annual General Meeting and Conference.  This year’s Conference will feature the launch of the ABCUL Academy, a new suite of training designed to meet the needs of credit unions of different sizes.  Watch for more news of this shortly.

Dong Energy provides local jobs boost
Following soon after the arrival of Siemens on the North bank, it was great to read that the Humber region will benefit from another huge jobs boost when the Danish company DONG Energy invests in the Hornsea Project One offshore wind farm.  This will be by far the largest offshore wind farm on the planet, creating 300 permanent jobs and up to 2,000 during the construction phase.  With a capacity of 1.2 gigawatts, by 2020 it will power well over 1 million UK homes.    What’s more, Siemens are the preferred suppliers for the 7 megawatt wind turbines which will be located 120 kilometres off the Yorkshire coast.   It’s all round good news as our region stakes its claim to become a world leader in the low-carbon energy future.

Time to improve your home?
With Easter around the corner, it’s time to dust down those plans to improve your home.  Please give us the chance to help you with a Credit Union Loan.   Very competitive deals are available on loans up to £15,000, from 4% APR.  Apply online or in branch.


Tuesday, 26 January 2016

January 2016

Have you kept your New Year Resolutions?
We are now nearly one month into 2016 so how are you all getting on with those New Year Resolutions?  Aha, I thought as much! Making them (and telling the world, so that you can’t easily duck out) seems so important at the turn of the year, whether it be giving up smoking, adopting a healthier diet, taking a brisk daily walk or making more time for the family.  But, one month on, let’s face it, they’re often as memorable as last Sunday’s newspaper!

But it’s not always like that.  Our staff and volunteers are pleased to see more people than ever popping in to open Christmas Saver accounts this January.  Getting organised for a happy Christmas eleven months before it’s due to happen is a great idea – and we are helping by offering up to £10 bonuses to match your first deposit.  If you’re in Northern Lincolnshire, there’s also an extra £5 for you if you open one and then recommend a friend to do so too!   No other bank is offering anything like it – so don’t miss out, check it out and jump aboard.

Our members say it’s “life changing” when the festive spending season comes along and they have all the money saved up for the first time ever – so no more stress when those January credit card bills arrive, and no more paying over the odds to high cost lenders.    

How’s that sound for a New Year resolution you could keep?    Ok, then, pass me another chocolate….

AGM Feedback
We had a wonderful AGM in December and very much enjoyed meeting our members, reporting to them on our eventful year, and hearing their opinions.   Our Credit Union has now been part of the local scene for 17 years yet every year we manage to have some fresh news to share with those who support this popular annual event.  

We asked members to complete a short questionnaire afterwards to tell us what they liked or didn’t like about the event, and what could be done better next time.  Pleased to say the responses were hugely positive, the only “negatives” being that members would have preferred to sit at tables, and would have liked a microphone to be available.   Hull Guildhall, whose room we use, tell us that unfortunately that meeting room is not wired up for sound, and can’t accommodate tables like the upstairs Reception Room.  We couldn’t have used that room due to another booking, but didn’t want to change the meeting day since members are used to it.

Congratulations to Lynda Brown, David Whiteley and June Blexill whose names came out of the hat to receive a Say Shopping voucher as a “thank you” for returning our survey! 

Board of Directors 2015-16
Following the AGM we welcomed to their first Board meeting our two new directors – Bill Meadows and Juliana Okai-Aboagye

You can read a profile of Bill and Juliana on our website.

At the December Board meeting we traditionally appoint the Officers and Directors with special responsibilities for the coming Board year.   Alan Hignett was re-elected to serve a second two-year term as President, with Andy Stankard continuing as Vice President.  One of the duties of Vice President is to chair our Personnel Committee.  Other officers elected were:
·        Jane Walton – Treasurer
·        John Bailey – Assistant Treasurer
·        Emma Garland – Secretary
·        Sue Nicholson – Assistant Secretary
·        Tony Craggs – Chair of Risk Committee

Remember, all these members and their director colleagues volunteer their time and skills to help our Credit Union develop, which is quite unique in the financial services industry.

Support for Alderson House
A “small change” collection taken at the AGM, together with the proceeds of a “staff collective Christmas card” organised by Sheila at Central Office, amounted to £117.50.  
Our Employees’ Council selected Alderson House at Bridlington to receive this donation which was handed over by Sarah, a staff member from the local branch.
Alderson House is one of the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Break Centres.  It’s a real “gem” of a place where serving and former soldiers, sailors and airmen can enjoy a well-earned break with their families, sometimes between assignments.   Sarah tells me the facilities are very impressive and funded by the annual Poppy Appeal but for entertainment, outings and treats they must rely on donations.   We were delighted to help with that, and hope our relationship with the Centre will long continue.

Save money on gas and electricity with Co-operative Energy
In the midst of the heating season many of us are finding our heating and lighting bills are still rising.  How would you like to save some money on your gas and electricity?   Wouldn’t you like to switch to a co-operative provider that is in business to support its members and not make massive profits for rich city shareholders (just like us, in fact)?

Well, thanks to our new partnership with The Co-operative Energy, now you can.  Just pop in to our branches next week with a recent gas and electricity bill, or your key card, and you’ll be able to obtain a free, no obligation quote, showing how much you’d save by switching to them.   Everyone who gets a quote will be given a £5 Co-op shopping voucher as a “thank you”. 

Tim, the Co-operative Energy man, will be in our branches on:
Monday 1st and Tuesday 2nd February – Hull Central
Wednesday 3rd February – Scunthorpe
Thursday 4th February – Bridlington

You can also find out more by clicking on the Energy banner on the HEYCU website or phoning 0800 093 7511 quoting “HEYCU” to see what you could save. 

Northern Lincolnshire forging ahead!
We are thrilled to have signed up two new employers to our rewarding payroll deduction scheme.  Staff at North Lindsey College in Scunthorpe can now save with us, and repay Credit Union loans, very painlessly by direct deduction from their wages.

Carmel (Northern Lincolnshire Partnership Officer) and I took part in a lunch time member recruitment session at the College on 14 January and lots of staff members signed up on the spot to open Christmas Saver accounts.   Some very nice people will be enjoying their starter bonuses next Christmas!    We were very impressed with the College HR team, who couldn’t have been more helpful. 

Another Scunthorpe business is also keen to offer its employees this valued staff benefit.  Lebus Upholstery, one of the region’s leading makers of upholstered furnishings, has also agreed to make Credit Union payroll deductions.   We are looking forward to working with them too.

At the Ongo Group, where we’ve had a payroll partnership for some time, we held a Credit Union Champions Briefing recently.   The Champions are colleagues who work at Ongo who have volunteered to help to promote the Credit Union’s services to their workmates and in the wider community.  It was a lively session, facilitated by John Lawrence, their manager, and they were full of good ideas for ways that we can work together to achieve success.

It’s positive news on the Winterton front as well.   With support from the Winterton 2022 Project, the town’s two schools are ready to launch Pennies2Pounds School Banks, just like the ones that we run across East Yorkshire.  Won’t it be brilliant that the children and families in the town will be introduced to positive ways with money through this exciting project?

Meanwhile, back at our branch in Scunthorpe High Street, paint brushes are being wielded with great force to spruce up the in-branch environment for members and our staff and volunteer team. 

We’re in the Hull Journal
Are you a reader of the Hull Journal?  This monthly “coffee table magazine” is distributed to residents in the West Hull villages and Beverley and goes on sale at local newsagents.   It’s a stylish publication that is found in many homes, cafes, hair salons and doctor’s surgeries across the area.  The Journal’s typical advertisements feature top-of-the-range cars, kitchen furnishings, high fashion and fine dining.   And there on page 19 of the February edition is a full page feature on … you’ve guessed. .. our Credit Union! 

Our latest campaign, courtesy of the Credit Union Expansion Project, aims to make the whole community aware of what credit unions have to offer, including our competitive loan deals up to £15,000.   We are keen to tell the world that Credit Unions are here for everyone, so we hope our story will help to spread a better understanding of our mission.   The Hull Journal’s strapline is “Celebrating East Yorkshire’s finest”, so I think we are all “on the same page” there!

UK Credit Unions reach 1.6 million members
According to figures released by the Bank of England, adult membership of credit unions in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland reached 1.6 million in June 2015.   England saw the biggest growth, of 9.2% over the previous 12 months.  It seems an average of 232 adults joined a credit union in the UK every day.   The UK’s growth is part of a global push to bring credit union services to more people, as the World Council of Credit Unions aims to attract a further 50 million consumers into membership over the next five years.

Looking for a loan to improve your home?

We can offer very competitive deals on loans up to £15,000, from 4% APR – please give us a chance to serve you.  No hidden fees, no early settlement penalties.   Apply online or in branch.