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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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!