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.


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.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

JOHN’S BLOG – JANUARY 2017

OUR SPECIAL NEW YEAR
It seems ages ago that we were welcoming in the New Year and, here in the City of Kingston upon Hull, enjoying the launch of our time as UK City of Culture.  And what a spectacular start it was!  The fireworks on the opening night were well worth seeing, despite it being one of the coldest nights of the winter, but then the Made in Hull experience that followed was simply stunning.  Seeing the past 80 years of Hull’s history so cleverly projected on to the walls of some of our most iconic buildings in glorious technicolour was amazing, and huge crowds revelled in the experience all week long.   If this is just the start, what follows on as the year unfolds will be well worth waiting for!

Meanwhile back at the Credit Union, we’ve had a busy opening month as well…

ST STEPHEN’S COMMUNITY ROADSHOW
Our video debut at the roadshow in St Stephen’s Shopping Centre proved very popular and during the week-long event we enlightened a lot more people as to what credit unions are all about.  Staff colleagues joined the professional marketeers to meet shoppers, hand out leaflets and invite them to join in our Quiz.   Here are the answers in case you were wondering:
·         Your Credit Union is owned by – its Members
·         A credit union can charge whatever it likes if you borrow money from it – False
·         Borrowing from a credit union is cheaper than borrowing from a doorstep lender – True
·         Savings are better protected in a big bank than in a credit union – False
We are still checking the replies but will announce the winner of the £50 shopping voucher very soon!

SOCIAL MEDIA WORKSHOP
We’d like to thank Phil Frampton of the Barclays Credit Union Development Project for putting on a very interesting social media workshop for us.  We were delighted that colleagues from two other credit unions – Voyager Alliance and Commsave – could join us for the event.

LARGER CREDIT UNIONS EVENT
Alan (our President) and I attended a very worthwhile ABCUL Larger Credit Unions event in Manchester.   The agenda was packed with useful topics and opportunities to share news and information and compare performance.  I was interested in some recent research that showed that one of the features of credit unions that members value most is the ability to save while you borrow.  It is so ingrained in the way we’ve always worked that we have perhaps forgotten what a powerful benefit it is.

SHOP THE SHARK EVENTS
Our campaign to urge people to “Say No to Loan Sharks” got off to a great start when Sid the (reformed) Shark visited Boothferry Primary School in Goole to meet pupils and involve them in some healthy money talk.  The Headteacher did a brilliant job setting the scene and encouraging them to join our Pennies 2 Pounds School Bank.   A week later Sid visited Greatfield Estate in Hull and the look of surprise as he wandered into the local shops to meet staff and customers was a sight to behold!   Sid’s message was of course to warn people about getting into the clutches of illegal money lenders, who do so much harm to families and communities up and down the land.

If anyone knows of loan sharks operating they should contact the Illegal Money Lending Team on 0300 555 2222 or email reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk or text loan shark + message to 60003.  All messages are treated in complete confidence and you could be doing your community the biggest favour ever.

Remember, anyone who opens a Credit Union savings account in Goole or Greatfield between now and 1st March and saves at least twice during February, will qualify for a £25 savings bonus!  Pop down to see us to claim your voucher.

DWP MEMBER RECRUITMENT IN GLASGOW
Last week I was in Glasgow with our portable Credit Union recruitment stand meeting staff at the major DWP offices at Northgate.   DWP staff there can join HEYCU and save with us by payroll deduction.  I should like to thank credit union volunteer Angela for her brilliant help and company on the day.  We had some good conversations with the DWP colleagues and I was interested to learn that there are around 34 credit unions in Glasgow and they have the highest penetration of membership of anywhere in the UK.  Quite by chance, it happened to be Robbie Burns Day and to join in the celebrations I tucked into a lunch of haggis, tatties and neeps in the staff canteen!   I am sure we will be back north of the border before too long.

WINTERTON NEWS
The Pennies 2 Pounds School Banks at the Winterton schools continue to make good progress and during the three months to 30 January 2017 over £530 was saved into the accounts by pupils and their families. Well done to all our savers!

Andrew from our Scunthorpe branch was invited to make a presentation to the children of Winterton Junior School during their assembly and this was well received.  The Headteacher then announced to the children that the school will deposit £1 into every new account opened by a pupil this school year.  Chole Fowler will be running the Winterton Junior School Bank on Thursdays 9 Feb, 9 Mar, 6 Apr, 4 May, 8 and 22 Jun, 13 and 20 July.  Donna Goodhand will be running the Winterton Infants School Bank weekly on a Friday.

We are also planning to open a regular contact point inside Winterton’s Co-op.  Watch out for more news!

DRIFFIELD SCHOOLS CO-ORDINATOR
We are very sad to be losing the services of our wonderful Schools Co-ordinator in the Driffield area, Rita Walker.  Rita and Nigel are leaving the area to go and live in the North-East to be closer to their family but they have been sterling volunteers over the years and we shall miss them.  Rita has been the mainstay of our Pennies 2 Pounds Club, organising and supporting the volunteer teams and putting on special assemblies in numerous schools ranging from the Driffield area up to Bridlington and deep into Holderness.   Everyone at HEYCU would like to say “thank you Rita for a job well done” and our very best wishes for the future.

PAYING OVER THE ODDS FOR CREDIT?   WHY NOT SWAP AND DROP?
At this time of year we know many people are feeling money-challenged and some may be saddled with big credit card bills that were run up during the festive spending season. As a result they may be paying out more in monthly repayments than necessary.  That’s where we may be able to help.  Take a look at the Swap & Drop page on our website and see if we could save you some money by switching to a Credit Union Loan with lower interest and lower repayments.