Monday, 6 March 2017

JOHN’S BLOG – FEBRUARY 2017

February was another hectic month for our credit union.  As well as welcoming 200 new members and junior savers into our “family” we also forged some exciting new partnerships:

FAIRBANKING FOUNDATION HIGHLIGHTS “SAVE AS YOU BORROW”
I was interested to learn that the Fairbanking Foundation has launched a new report titled Save as You Borrow – Credit Unions Creating Good Habits.  Using research by Ipsos MORI into the behaviour of 1,200 borrowers from seven different credit unions, it shows how credit unions turn borrowers into savers.
Apparently two-thirds of the borrowers surveyed had no savings when they first took out a credit union loan, and had found it impossible to put money aside.   But as a result of using a Save As You Borrow credit union product, they now planned on saving regularly.
The positive long term impact of Save As You Borrow is underlined by the fact that only a quarter of respondents were saving regularly before taking out their credit union loan, but 71% said they would continue to do so after paying it back.
The report also shows how the credit union approach - helping people to budget and assisting people who have problems - breeds strong loyalty to the credit union among its members.
It is a very valuable report as it demonstrates the benefit of supporting and partnering with credit unions - particularly for employers, since the creation of a savings culture is the best defence against problem debt.   Here at HEYCU we are always pleased to talk with any employers who may be interested in working with us to provide their workforce with a really powerful staff benefit – savings and loans by payroll deduction.

NEW DWP WORKPLACE CHAMPIONS RECRUITED
Our Payroll Partnership with the Department for Work & Pensions is a good example of what can be achieved.  In just eight months, we’ve recruited over 800 members to HEYCU from the DWP staff across Yorkshire, the North East and in Scotland.   As well as saving regularly with us direct from their pay, many of these new members have discovered our highly competitive loan deals.
We had a great response to a recent Newsletter that we sent to our DWP members, and were thrilled to recruit six new Workplace Champions.   Our Champions are members who agree to post credit union recruitment material on the workplace notice boards, and to “talk us up” among their workmates. 
A phone call to welcome our new Champions often reveals some interesting stories.  Lynsey, who works at the DWP in Clydebank, told me that her parents – Pat and Agnes McGowan - had both been active in credit unions:  “I actually grew up in and around credit unions as my parents helped to set up and run Tail O’the Bank Credit Union in Greenock for 25 years.  My dad was the chairman and my mum the treasurer and as a child I was often taken along to ABCUL AGM’s and many credit union events!”  Lynsey said she was excited about being part of the credit union movement within the DWP and looking forward to updating her knowledge and spreading the word.  I hope to visit your office next time I am in the area, Lynsey.

LLOYDS BANKING GROUP DEVELOPMENT FUND
Again on the partnerships theme, we were very pleased to be one of 21 credit unions to be awarded a grant from the Lloyds Banking Group Development Fund, to support our future growth. 
As part of its commitment to Helping Britain Prosper, Lloyds Banking Group have awarded a further £1 million in grants to strengthen the financial position of credit unions and give them the capacity to develop new ways to grow, become sustainable and provide extra much-needed responsible lending to communities across Britain.  The Fund was established in 2014 and is run in partnership with the Credit Union Foundation.  Award recipients are selected by an independent grants panel.
Together with Sue Nicholson, one of HEYCU’s Directors, I went to the Houses of Parliament to receive our award, which will help our credit union to expand our services to more communities in the Humber Region as well as serve more employers and their staff. 
It was good to meet Robin Bulloch, Managing Director of Lloyds Bank & Bank of Scotland, at the event to give us the chance to say “thank you” for our award, also to catch up with Mark Yarwood, our regional Lloyds contact and guests from other credit unions.   We were thrilled that our local MPs Nic DakinKarl Turner and Martin Vickers popped in to see us in the impressive setting of Westminster.


RURAL AREA PROJECT SET TO BEGIN
We have started work on a new partnership with the Goole & Selby Methodist Circuit to extend our reach to people living in the rural area between the two towns.  To begin with, we are focusing on the communities of Hemingbrough and Howden, aiming to show how credit union membership and services help to support family life.  So, watch out for us popping up at playgroups, children’s centres, schools, sports clubs, community centres, libraries, surgeries, in fact anywhere that families spend their time.   Jo, our energetic Goole Development Officer, will be working on the project and we’ll be looking to recruit some volunteers to help us spread the word and assist with running savings clubs and credit union contact points in those communities.   If you would like to help, please get in touch.

LOAN SHARKS CAMPAIGN HITS HOME
Our campaign, working with the Illegal Money Lending Team, to warn about the dangers posed by loan sharks (illegal lenders) and to make people aware of responsible lending alternatives, has really made an impact.   Our original target was to encourage 50 people to either start saving with us or (if already members) to open another account such as a Christmas or Holiday Saver or an account for a Junior.  However, we seem to have considerably exceeded that figure and very soon lots of members in the Goole and Greatfield areas who sent in Shop the Shark vouchers will have £25 bonuses credited to their savings account!
Sid the (friendly) Shark caused quite a stir when he put in anappearance at a special assembly at Boothferry Primary School and went walkabout at Greatfield Shopping Centre and in a large Tesco store. Our current campaign concludes with a children’s poster colouring competition with some exciting shark-related prizes!  We are pleased that the Team’s hard work is paying off, as there have been several loan sharks prosecuted around the country recently,   which is great news for those communities.
As the campaign has been so popular, and the message about avoiding loan sharks is clearly hitting home, it won’t be the last we have seen of Sid the Shark, so watch for him coming to your area in the future. 

NEW PARTNERS
We’d like to say a big “welcome” to Acre Heads Primary School at Anlaby, the latest school in our area to open a Pennies 2 Pounds school bank for the children and families in the area.  It got off to a promising start in 28 February and runs every Tuesday morning before the school day begins.
It was also a pleasure to run a member recruitment session at East Riding College in Beverley for the staff based there.  The new Flemingate campus is a wonderful building and the huge foyer and cafĂ© area proved an ideal busy location for our promotional stand.   Welcome to the new members who joined – and don’t forget to urge your colleagues to do the same!

OPPORTUNITIES IN NORTH EAST LINCOLNSHIRE
I spent an interesting day in Grimsby recently with Steve Johnston, who is employed as a Partnership Officer to look for opportunities for credit union development in the area.  The local credit union (not part of HEYCU) unfortunately closed down in 2016 but its services are much missed by the population.  Steve is helping us to devise a plan to work with the community to develop a sustainable credit union presence for North East Lincolnshire.  
I was very impressed with Centre4, a community building on the Nunsthorpe housing estate, which houses an amazing variety of services all under one roof.  With a trained volunteer team, it would be possible to run a regular contact point there, to provide safe savings and responsible loans for the local community.   We’re keen to hear from anyone who would be interested in helping us, or supporting us with resources.

ARE YOU IN OUR MEMBERS’ LOTTERY?
Are you a member of our fantastic Members’ Lottery?   Our Lottery, which is exclusively for members of HEYCU, has been run since 2001 by a group called HEYCU Friendly Folk.  Members can enrol for up to ten tickets in our monthly draw, with the price of each ticket – just £1 – being drawn from their Membership Account each month until they give notice to stop.
The Lottery is drawn on the second Wednesday of every month.  Over £500 in prizes are awarded, plus a triple draw at Christmas time.  Winners are notified by post but we also post a list on our website and social media and on screens or posters in branch.
At least 60% of the ticket sales are distributed in prizes with the remaining proceeds used to support credit union development, advertising and training activities.
If you haven’t joined our Lottery yet, what are you waiting for?   The more members who join, the bigger and better prizes we will be able to award.   To join, simply call the office for an application form or download one from our website and send it in.  You’ll be in the next available draw and, just think, it could be your ticket that wins the top prize!

AUGUSTA METRO FEDERAL CREDIT UNION
Finally, I’d like to mention our partner credit union in the USA – Augusta Metro Federal CU – whose 22,000 members have just voted to merge with PenFed CU of Tysons, Va, America’s second largest federal credit union.
In the States, the size of credit unions is simply breath-taking compared with the UK.  Augusta Metro members will be joining a CU with 1.5 million members and assets of more than 21 billion dollars!  They will enjoy access to loans, mortgages, credit cards and savings products with nation-leading rates and the financial security of a larger group. 
Established in 1935, PenFed CU has done well to build a great range of benefits for their mass membership.  But, as someone whose career has experienced several co-operative mergers, I was equally encouraged to hear of their care and concern for their people.  We worked very closely with Augusta Metro’s Board to make sure we could deliver PenFed’s powerful credit union experience and add value to its members while taking perfect care of its hard-working staff,” said their Executive Vice President Shashi Vohra. “Providing opportunities for career advancement and improved benefits to employees is one of the hallmarks of our partnerships. The staff takes care of our members and we take care of them.
Everyone at HEYCU sends best wishes to our friends at Augusta Metro for a successful merger, which is scheduled to take effect in June.

CHILD BENEFIT LOAN & SAVINGS PLAN

Have you read about our latest product? For families receiving Child Benefit, it offers a fantastic way to make the most of your money.  Having Child Benefit paid directly into a HEYCU Membership Account can give access to an affordable credit union loan of up to £500, a safe way to save up for Christmas, holidays, school uniforms and equipment, and the convenience of an Engage VISA debit card for shopping and online purchases.