Thursday, 17 August 2017

John’s Blog - August

Well, the holiday season is in full swing here in East Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire but the weather hasn’t exactly got the message, as we have had some terrific downpours.  Still, it’s been good for the gardens and the vegetable plot at the CEO household is promising a bumper crop!

Whatever you are doing this summer, hope you’re enjoying yourself.


OUR LOAN SALE PROVES A HIT

Here at HEYCU we are delighted with the response to our Sizzling Summer Loan Sale.  This is the second year that we have run this campaign, featuring an amazing 3.5% APR rate on loans from £5,000 to £15,000, with repayment periods up to 7 years.    This year, our total lending is up 25% compared with last year, and that’s from new members as well as those who have been with us for some time.

If you have a major project such as home or garden improvements, a new car, family celebration or a  “holiday of a lifetime”, where it would make sense to spread the cost over a longer period, why not give us a try?    You don’t have to bank with us to qualify for a Credit Union Loan, so why bother with your bank when we have such an appealing offer?   Pop over to our website where there’s an easy-to-use Loan calculator showing some guideline quotations.

Remember, with a Credit Union Loan, there are no set up fees, no penalties if you want to settle early, and you only ever pay interest on the reducing balance.  What’s more we are one of only a few lenders in the UK to be awarded the 5-star Fairbanking Mark.

You’ll have to be quick, though, as the Loan Sale will definitely finish at the end of August.












OUT AND ABOUT

Recently, I took a tour round our branches and it was fantastic to see all the activity going on, with staff and volunteers not only busy serving our members but also helping with events to support the communities where we trade.

Goole Branch had a very successful Cupcake Day on 14 July which raised £100 for the Alzheimer’s Society.   When I arrived the branch counter was groaning under the weight of plates of delicious cupcakes, many donated by local bakeries, supermarkets and friends to support our event.   Penny the penny-wise Penguin was busy keeping visitors – young and old – entertained, and we even had a class from St Joseph’s RC Primary School, along with their teachers, drop in for a tasty treat.  We’re thrilled that they are going to open a Pennies2Pounds school bank there in September.

Withernsea Branch was next on my list, and even though I picked the rainiest day of the year for my seaside trip, the Shores Centre was bustling and my catch up with Mareth and Malcolm, our hard working volunteers, had to be squeezed in between serving members.  However, I did manage a chat with Jayne Nendick, the very pro-active Shores manager, who always seems to be hatching some new scheme to make life better for the residents of this friendly town.

I visited Driffield Branch with staff colleague Jamie-Leigh, on the day when our Local Members’ Group met, and we enjoyed a good discussion about the School Banks, which this branch pioneered as long ago as 2005.  With relatively new volunteers Audrey and Debbie now co-ordinating this work, we wanted to make sure the support from Central Office is as effective as possible.  Each school running a Pennies 2 Pounds club will therefore receive a termly newsletter and a list of resources they can order such as piggy banks, saver cards, “I saved today” stickers and certificates to mark savings milestones for handing out in school assemblies. 

Another Wednesday it was over to Howden to see how our latest contact point is doing.  The answer was “pretty well” as we’ve now been up and running in the large Co-op Store for eight weeks, and every week we’ve had some new residents signing up to become Credit Union Members.  It’s clearly a very co-operatively-minded town because many of the new members have commented how pleased they are to see the Credit Union coming to Howden, because it’s “not-for-profit” unlike any other bank.   What an interesting place it is; you only have to take a look at the local monthly magazine, Howden Matters (edited by one of our keen new members), it’s jam packed with news of events and happenings – and we are in the August edition!


CARNIVAL TIME

On 2nd August our Scunthorpe branch colleagues Tracey and Sarah attended the Ongo Carnival to run a Credit Union promotional table and enjoyed meeting the families who came along, as well as the Ongo staff, many of whom save with us via popular payroll deduction.  They received quite a number of enquiries, especially about our Child Benefit Savings and Loan Plan, and gave out some loan quotations.  A competition to guess the amount of money saved in a piggy bank provided some fun for adults and children on the Westcliffe Estate and the two lucky winners received Say Shopping gift vouchers.

Carnival events are clearly a much loved feature of the English summer, for we were recently involved in another one, this time on the Greatfield Estate in Hull where we have a Wednesday contact point at Elmbridge Parade Co-op, supported by Greatfield Big Local project.  It was Greatfield’s 60th Anniversary and to mark the occasion (some residents have lived there since the houses were built), a Carnival Parade wended its way from St Hilda’s Church to St Stephen’s Church, where an afternoon of fun took place.  The “battle” between Sid the Shark (our friendly mascot from the Stop Loan Sharks Team) and a giant Money Spider created by the children of a local primary school was a great piece of entertainment!


FREE BUDGET PLANNER

One outcome of the Barclays Credit Union Project that we took part in earlier this year was the production of a useful Budget Planner, now available free of charge from any of our branches. 

Money management is essential whether you’re in debt or just juggling your regular household budget.  The planner aims to help everyone to get an accurate picture of how much they spend each month, and how much they have coming in, so they can set goals for reducing spending, freeing up cash for unexpected expenses or coping well with credit without landing in unmanageable debt.

The Planner is full of money saving ideas and tips that everyone can put into practice to make them more money-savvy.  There’s also a list of useful organisations that can help anyone struggling to bring their household finances under control.  According to the Money Advice Service 1 in 3 households admit that they don’t set a budget to manage their regular bills.  52% of those that do budget say they do it for peace of mind.  And 32% budget to cope with the unexpected. 


ARTHUR’S ORGANICS

I am always looking around for other co-operative businesses that our members might like to buy from, knowing that many of you are very keen to support the wider co-operative movement.
Arthur Street Trading is a workers’ co-operative with social objectives and aims. It was established in West Hull in the mid-1990s to provide affordable, high quality organic foods. 
Sourcing organic fruit, vegetables, wholefoods and other groceries from local growers and national suppliers, they have provided an award winning box scheme throughout Hull and district since 1999. They feature foods that are free of artificial preservatives, colours, flavours, sweeteners, and hydrogenated fats, and food miles is always a priority - for many years they even used a solar powered milk float to make some deliveries!
Arthur’s  say: “We reinvest all profits back into the company to offer a fair price for our products so that they are more accessible for those on lower incomes, create jobs if we can, support local food projects, and support local growers. Buying from us means that you become a part of that positive energy.”    
To find out what’s available, or to place an order, visit www.arthursorganics.com


GOOLE MEMBERS’ GROUP

If you are one of our members who lives or works in Goole or Howdenshire (postcodes DN14, YO8 or HU15) we would love to see you at the launch of our Goole & District Local Members’ Group on Wednesday 13th September. 

The venue is the wonderful Lowther Hotel, Aire Street, Goole and members can arrive from 6 pm onwards for a 6.30 pm start.   There’ll be refreshments and a Prize Draw, and we’ll be sharing news with you of your Credit Union’s progress and celebrating the first 8 years of our Goole Branch. 

As Credit Union members, you are our future.  Over the past 8 years we have grown our membership in the area to nearly 1,000 adult and junior savers and borrowers.  But we need your ideas and suggestions to help us make the next 8 years even more successful.   It will be an informal and friendly evening and we are looking forward to meeting our members.   Call 01405 854564 or email jevans@hullandeycu.co.uk to accept the invitation.


CREDIT UNIONS WELCOME FCA REVIEW OF HIGH COST CREDIT

The Financial Conduct Authority recently published the findings of its review of high-cost credit.  It looked at the payday lending cap and the wider high-cost credit market, including rent-to-own, home credit, catalogues, unarranged overdrafts and motor finance.  Matt Bland, Head of Policy and Compliance at ABCUL (the Association of British Credit Unions) talked about the positive steps made by this review:  “Given the role credit unions play in disrupting the activities of these kinds of lenders, and the many tales of credit unions helping consumers piece their lives back together after falling foul of unscrupulous lenders, ABCUL has consistently supported the payday lending cap.  We highlighted the positive effect it has had on reducing consumer harm, further suggesting that similar measures were needed in other high-cost credit markets.”

 While there had been some speculation that the FCA was planning to water down the payday lending cap, we were very pleased to see it confirm that it …. plans on keeping it as it is until at least 2020. This is after receiving overwhelming evidence that it results in better outcomes for borrowers.

We were also pleased to see that the FCA will be publishing proposals for tighter regulation of rent-to-own, home credit and unarranged overdrafts in 2018. Particularly interesting is the commitment from FCA to look at why more affordable alternatives, such as credit unions, are not better able to meet demand in these markets. This may create an opportunity to discuss some of the regulatory barriers that credit unions face in expanding services more quickly.”


Good news indeed.



Thursday, 29 June 2017

John’s Blog – June & July


The month of June has perhaps been one of the busiest in our Credit Union’s history, so there’s lots to tell you about…


Now we are 18!

Your Credit Union was registered with the then Registrar of Friendly Societies on 10th June 1999, so this month we attained our 18th anniversary.  This significant milestone was marked by the cutting of a special birthday cake at our Central Office in Hull by our President, Alan Hignett and our guest from the Pen Fed Credit Union, Georgia, USA, Sherry Saxon.
 
HEYCU began life as the credit union for Hull City Council staff and their families and our first office was a back room down a corridor in the city’s magnificent Guildhall.  We were only open on Wednesday lunch times at first and run entirely by volunteers.  Despite this, with the enthusiastic support of the Council workforce, we grew rapidly, beating our three year plan targets in the first year! 
 
The first ever loans we granted were to help members to buy shares in the city’s own telecommunications business, KCom, which had just floated on the stock market!   Now, we make loans for less unusual purposes, such as holidays, Christmas, home improvements, cars and family celebrations, and more besides.

It’s remarkable to think that we have since expanded to become one of Britain’s top 15 credit unions, with over 40 payroll partners (including the DWP, one of the largest government departments) as well as serving over 10,000 members who live and work in the Humber Region. 

As someone who was there at the start, seeing our CU “come of age” is a great personal thrill.  I’d like to pay tribute to all who have shared the journey, including Eddie (our Finance Manager) and John Bailey (Director) whose involvement, like mine, has spanned the whole 18 year period.

If you want to learn more about our fascinating history, there’s a timeline on our website


Our new website

Have you seen our new website?  Early in June, with the help of Cornerstone Mutual Services, we switched over to our fresh look site. Our loan and savings products are displayed much more clearly and the improved loan calculator (with an easy to use slider bar) is proving a big hit with members eager to work out the repayments on a CU Loan.

It’s so easy to navigate – on your smartphone, tablet, laptop or desk computer – whether you are looking to join online, download forms or documents, or access one of our partner sites such as Co-op Energy or the Co-op Electrical Store. 

Why not take a browse today, and then give us some feedback?   We are always keen to hear what our members think.


Fairbanking Mark awarded

I am thrilled to announce that we’ve been awarded a 5-star Fairbanking Mark for our Credit Union Loan products.

The prestigious mark, awarded by the Fairbanking Foundation, recognises that our CU Loan has the required features to make a positive impact on consumers’ financial well-being.  If you have had a CU Loan, you’ll be familiar with these admired features, which include:

·         providing loan applicants with a budget planner to help them work our whether they can afford to repay a loan;
·         allowing borrowers to settle early without a fee or penalty charge; and
·         encouraging our members to save alongside their loan repayments, which supports a savings habit, and gives an incentive to continue savings when the loan is completed.

Very few banking organisations have achieved a Fairbanking Mark so far, and even fewer one with 5-stars.  Before a mark is awarded, the bank or credit union undergoes a rigorous independent survey when members or customers are asked for their views on the product and their experience of using it.   We’d like to thank all our members who took part in the survey and helped us to gain our award.

Antony Elliott, the CEO of the Fairbanking Foundation said “We’ve now worked with eleven credit unions to enable their personal loans to be granted the Fairbanking Mark.  The evidence shows that credit unions are playing an increasingly important role in people’s financial lives in the UK.”
  

Visit by Georgia League of Credit Unions

The UK credit union movement and the Credit Union League of Georgia, USA have formed a partnership to work together for mutual benefit over a ten year period.  Credit unions are huge in the USA and have been around for much longer than in the UK, so we have much to learn from their experiences.

So, it was truly a pleasure to welcome Mrs Sherry Saxon, the Regional Director of PenFed Credit Union in Augusta, and her husband Sidney, to Hull & East Yorkshire Credit Union from 12 to 16 June.  Sherry worked with me, and our directors, to look at how we can further develop our loans business, and revamp our head office to provide an even better experience for our members. She attended a Board meeting, to explain how her credit union had grown from a micro-business to the multi-million dollar organisation that it is today, and how we might follow in their path, while staying true to our co-operative not-for-profit ethos. And she visited all our branches and met the directors and staff socially, which was a most enjoyable experience. 

During their time in Hull, Sherry and Sidney visited Hull’s Guildhall and were treated to afternoon tea with the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress.  They were so impressed with this wonderful historic building.  We should also like to thank the Leader of the Council, Steven Brady, for spending time with them to talk about Hull’s development strategy.  It was a memorable visit and we hope to see them again at some point.


Howden contact point opens

Wednesday 21st June was a special day for us as we opened a new Credit Union contact point to serve the town of Howden.  Thanks to the kind support of the Co-operative Group, we will have a table inside the large Co-op supermarket in Charles Briggs Avenue every Wednesday from 12 noon to 2 pm.

At the contact point residents can join our credit union, pay in savings deposits, apply for loans and ask about our services.  Howden is one of the rural communities that has sadly lost its main bank, so we are pleased to offer an alternative savings and loans facility without residents needing to travel to Goole.

Our opening day was also special because we introduced Penny Penguin, our new penny-wise mascot.  Penny was very popular with the youngsters as she toured the town, handing out balloons and posing for “selfies”. 

While Penny was busy at the Co-op I popped our leaflets through doors to announce our arrival in town, and enjoyed meeting the people of this lovely historic town.


CU staff take part in Hull 10k

Congratulations to my staff colleagues, Sandra, Sarah (and her husband Paul), Matthew, Steve and Kathryn on completing the Hull 10k Run recently.  Proudly displaying the HEYCU logo on their running tops, they did amazingly well especially on the hottest day of the year!


New Lottery sponsors

We are delighted to welcome the Hull Branch of UNISON, the public service union, as our main Members’ Lottery sponsors.  UNISON have provided funding for three extra lottery prizes each month, so we hope even more members will sign up for lottery tickets (£1 each, deducted monthly from your CU Savings).  There’s at least £550 in prizes to be won each month, plus a bumper triple draw at Christmas, so don’t miss out – apply today


Hull’s wonderful news

Our home city has been gaining lots of deserved applause for embracing its City of Culture status so well.   So it was wonderful to learn that £27.5 million funding – including a £15 million National Heritage Lottery grant – had been secured for a major tourism investment in Yorkshire’s Maritime City.

The seven-year project will see the Arctic Corsair – Hull’s last remaining trawler – move to a new berth in a dry dock on the River Hull, alongside a visitor centre; a facelift for the Maritime Museum in Queen Victoria Square, including public access to a rooftop dome; a new home for some of the city’s historic maritime treasures opposite; and a refit for the Spurn Lightship.
It’s great news that 74 jobs, 10 apprenticeships and hundreds of volunteer roles will be created, with the 300,000 extra visitors to the city in the first year boosting the city’s economy by over £1.4 million. 

Well done to all who helped to make this happen – it’s fantastic that the City Plan ambition of creating a world-class destination on our doorstep is being realised.


Summer Events in our Region

Well, it’s summer at last, so let’s take a trip around our Credit Union region and find some ideas for outdoor events that you might like to attend:

Sat 1st - Sun 2nd July
Winterton Agricultural Show
Sun 2nd  July
Howden Show
Tue 11th July 2 - 3.30pm 
Oldfleet Primary School, Greatfield Celebration
Thu 13th July 2 - 3.30pm
Stockwell Primary School, Greatfield Celebration
Sat 15th July – 11 am - 3pm
Greatfield 60 Street Party: Meet at St Hilda's at 11am for the parade to St Stephen’s where the 'street party' will be held.
Sat 15th – Sun 16th July
Open Gardens at Winterton
Wed 19th July
Driffield Show
Sat 22nd July 1 – 4 pm
Viking Barton Family Fun Day
Sat 22nd – Sun 23rd July
Withernsea Carnival, Steam Rally and Parade
Tue 1st August
Yorkshire Day at Sewerby Park, Bridlington – a celebration of all things Yorkshire
Wed 2nd August 11 am to 3.30 pm
Ongo Carnival Scunthorpe
Fri 18th to Sun 20th August
Old Goole Gala


Summer Loans

Would some extra funds come in handy for holiday spending money, holiday clothes or equipment?   Don’t forget we have five-star CU Loans available at competitive rates to suit all pockets.  Check out our website today!


Tuesday, 2 May 2017

JOHN’S BLOG – APRIL & MAY

There’s still a lot going on at HEYCU as we approach the warmer season, which brings the traditional upswing in our loans business as members get busy with their DIY and finalise their holiday plans...


National Champion Award from IMLT

We were very thrilled to be chosen as a National Winner of an Award from the Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) in recognition of the work we’ve been doing over the past year to raise the community’s awareness of the dangers posed by unauthorised lenders, or “loan sharks”.    Our award was presented by the IMLT mascot “Sid the Shark” at Boothferry Primary School in Goole, where much of the partnership activity has been co-ordinated by Jo Evans, our Development Officer.  Mike Sibley, the very supportive Head Teacher, and I were interviewed by Radio Humberside and the Goole Times were present to record the occasion.   You can read about the work we have done at Goole, and on the Greatfield Estate in Hull, on our website.

Tony Quigley, Head of Service for the England Illegal Money Lending Team said: “Well done to all our winners and ‘highly commended’ runners up in the National Champions Awards 2016. You have all contributed to making a difference and tackling this crime in your community. Loan sharks are a scourge on society and cause harm and misery to their victims. If you or someone you know has been a victim of a loan shark, we urge you to get in touch with IMLT on 0300 555 2222. You call will be handled by a trained officer and all information will be treated in the strictest confidence.

Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 370 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 318 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £71.9 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 26,500 people.



DWP Payroll Membership

It is a pleasure to see our membership among the DWP staff community steadily growing and many of those members are already increasing their monthly savings and thinking of us when they require a loan.  At the time of writing we are about to sign up our 1,000th DWP staff member, which is a tremendous achievement in just 9 months. 

During April I visited two sites in Scotland where we have lots of members – Falkirk and Dundee – and greatly enjoyed meeting many of them as well as signing up some new ones.  Everyone was so friendly and helpful and it was good to see how keen they were to support our credit union.  As it was a “working break” I found time to take a walk to see the impressive Falkirk Wheel, have a stroll through Callendar Park, and have a look at the waterfront regeneration taking place in the very friendly city of Dundee.   I am sure I will be back before long.



Winterton residents can earn £10 bonuses

We now have a weekly contact point in the North Lincolnshire town of Winterton.  It is open every Wednesday inside Winterton’s Co-op food store from 12 noon and is run by our staff colleague Patrick. 
Just like at our other contact points in places like Driffield and Withernsea, local residents can join our credit union there, make savings deposits into adult and children’s accounts and find out about our responsible loans.
As an opening offer, we are giving £10 bonuses to Winterton area residents who sign up to save with us.   The offer will close when the first 50 bonuses have been awarded.

We are meeting the local Residents Group and members of the Town Council this month to explain how the credit union helps everyone who joins to make the most of their money.



Fairbanking Foundation to survey our members

We are keen to gain some feedback from those of our members who have taken out a CU Loan, to help us to improve your experience in the future.  The Fairbanking Foundation and Ipsos MORI are working with us to conduct a survey over the next few weeks, so if you are contacted to take part, please be assured that it is a genuine approach and we would very much appreciate your voluntary participation.  No personal financial details will be requested from you as part of this survey. 



Our Region in the News

Good to see the City of Hull getting mentioned on the BBC regularly with updates on our City of Culture activities.  The Weeping Window display of poppies at the Maritime Museum has really drawn the crowds following the departure of The Blade, while the play The Hypocrite played to sell-out audiences at Hull Truck Theatre.  The range of events and activities never ceases to amaze and it is fantastic that so many new visitors are being attracted to Hull and the surrounding region.  This weekend the third Tour de Yorkshire Cycle Races departed from Bridlington once again, wending their way through our beautiful East Riding countryside en route to Scarborough, again witnessed by mass crowds all along the way.  Long may the popularity of our region continue!



Grosmont Co-operative Society

It’s always interesting to learn about other co-operatives and so my eye was drawn to an article in the Dalesman magazine marking the 150th anniversary of one of the smallest co-ops – the village shop in Grosmont, which apparently is the oldest consumer co-operative in Britain still in existence.  If you have taken a trip on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway you will have seen or even popped in to their well-stocked shop facing Grosmont station. You may not have realised that it’s a member-owned business just like ours.  Congratulations to them, and here’s to their next 150 years!



General Election

The recent announcement of a General Election on 8th June took many of us by surprise as did the news that Hull West & Hessle’s MP Alan Johnson had decided not to seek re-election.   As well as serving the country with distinction in the last Labour Government, for 20 years Alan was an outstanding and highly respected representative for our city.   The keynote speaker at our launch event in Hull Guildhall in 1999, Alan has been a loyal member and good friend to us here at HEYCU ever since.   We hope the region will continue to benefit from his wisdom and experience and wish him all the best for the future.



Five Steps to Stopping Financial Fraud

We all know that financial crime is on the increase, so it’s good to see the Co-operative Bank issuing some sensible advice to help people guard against the fraudsters who try to trick us out of our money.  The advice is headed “It pays to take time; take five to stop and think”:
1          Never disclose any security details, such as your PIN or banking passwords or share them with anyone.  Banks, credit unions and other trusted organisations will never ask you for these by email, phone, text or letter, so unless you are 100% sure of who you are talking to, don’t disclose.
2          Don’t assume an email or phone call is authentic.  Just because someone knows your basic details, or tries to convince you that you have been a victim of fraud, it doesn’t mean they are genuine.
3          Don’t be rushed or pressured into making a decision.  No bank or credit union would force you to make a financial transaction on the spot or ask you to transfer money to another account for fraud reasons.  Stop and take time to carefully consider your actions.
4          Listen to your instincts.  If something feels wrong, it is usually right to question it.
5          Stay in control – have the confidence to refuse unusual requests for personal or financial information.
If you think there has been fraud on your card or bank account, contact your bank immediately.



New Flexi Credit service for our payroll members

We have started a new service for those members who pay into the credit union regularly by payroll deduction.  It’s called Flexi Credit and it’s designed to help those members who have a sudden need for extra funds, for example to pay for unexpected car repairs or to fix a boiler.   Payroll members who have worked for their employer for at least 12 months can apply for pre-approved credit limit of up to £2,000 to be held on their account and accessed when they need it most.   Interest is only paid on the funds drawn down, not on the full credit limit.  The repayments – made direct from pay – remain fixed no matter how much is drawn, so you can stay in control of your outgoings.  What’s more, the members can continue to save with us, alongside their loan repayments, which is a very popular way to manage your money.   Full details of Flexi Credit may be found here.



Spring Forward with a CU Loan

At this time of year, there are lots of exciting projects to be cracking on with, whether it’s home or garden improvements, a new set of wheels, holiday plans or perhaps a special family celebration.  Here at HEYCU we hope our members will think of us first when looking for financial support.  We have some very competitive deals to offer members seeking a CU Loan this spring.   Please check out our website for more details.  

Remember, with a CU Loan:

·         No set up charges
·         No hidden costs
·         No early settlement fees
·         Interest is only charged on the reducing balance
·         You don’t have to bank with us to get a competitive CU Loan.