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.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

December is here!

Christmas Savings reach record high
Our members once again beat previous records in 2015, with total collective savings of £613,000 in their Christmas Saver accounts (last year's figure was just over half a million).   Of course that doesn't reflect the total funds saved up for Christmas as many members use our Instant Access accounts for that purpose (the ones with enough will power to resist dipping in presumably!). 

This tremendous result reflects the efforts we’ve put into promoting Christmas planning in recent years and the enthusiastic way our members have responded to the call.    Many families will surely be glad they did and as a result fewer will dread the arrival of those post-Christmas credit card bills or be tempted to take out high-cost short-term credit to pay for it. 

Since the Christmas Savers were "unlocked" on 1st November, our staff have paid out £470,000 and are still busy responding to requests.  Happy Christmas everyone!

AGM 2015
I am looking forward to our AGM next Tuesday - the 8th December - in Hull's historic Guildhall, starting at 5.45 pm.   For me, it is like a big annual "family gathering" when members of our Credit Union family come together to review all we have achieved, discuss our progress and announce our exciting plans for the year ahead.

Our AGM gives us a chance to show members and guests just what we do and share news and information about our products, services and the people who make it all happen - our wonderful staff, volunteer and partner team.

I do hope you’ll be able to come.  If you aim to arrive a little early, there will be some food and drink, (from 5.15 pm) and an opportunity to mingle with other members.   We will have our ever popular Fairtrade stall to entice you with festive gifts and treats, plus a free raffle and maybe even some goodies to share out as a "thank you" for coming.

The directors and I look forward to seeing you there!

Northern Lincolnshire Partnership Officer
We're delighted to announce the appointment of Carmel Seston as our Partnership Officer for Northern Lincolnshire.

Carmel is very experienced in financial services, the world of education and the voluntary sector.  As a primary school teacher she used resources provided by PFEG to introduce financial capability into the school curriculum.  With Irish family roots, Carmel has always been familiar with credit unions, which are found everywhere in Ireland.  During 2015 she has been our East Riding Project Officer, working to establish school savings clubs on the north bank, a role which will run alongside her new duties.

Carmel has already started working with the Winterton 2022 project to develop school banks and community contact points in the town of Winterton.  She will also support our growing partnerships with the Ongo Group, North Lincolnshire Council and North Lindsey College.  I know she has already met many members of the Northern Lincolnshire community and we wish her every success in her new role.

School Banks News
Our new Pennies 2 Pounds bank at Appleton Primary School in Hull had a fantastic launch with 28 savers joining on the first day.

Pennies 2 Pounds Christmas Card Competition
·        The schools team ran a competition among the P2P schools to colour a Christmas Card, which attracted 24 entries.  The winners of a selection box and £5 HEYCU savings voucher were:
·        Key stage 1 - Leah Pearson (Northfield Primary)
·        Key stage 2 – Abigail Little (Roos Primary).
·        Everyone who entered will be receiving a party bag in the next week or so, with our thanks for taking part.

Credit Unions meet to prepare for transformation
HEYCU joined other credit unions entering the transformation phase of the Credit Union Expansion Project (CUEP) in Manchester for a special conference last week.  Over 70 delegates from 35 credit unions attended.
The Transformation Programme will see credit unions like ours introduce a new range of modern products, services and access channels for our members during 2016.
The conference began with a special message from Lord Freud reiterating the UK Government’s ongoing support for the credit union sector, and the Chair of Cornerstone Mutual Services, Lord Hunt, welcomed credit unions to the event.
Delegates then enjoyed a packed programme of presentations and workshops on topics ranging from the automated lending system known as PowerCurve, how to prepare for migration, credit union governance and the marketing support available for transforming credit unions.
The CUEP is funded by the Department for Work and Pensions, and the Association of British Credit Unions (ABCUL) won the contract to deliver it. CUEP is managed by Cornerstone Mutual Services,  ABCUL’s subsidiary company.
ABCUL Chief Executive Mark Lyonette said: “Credit unions have made a very significant commitment in signing up for transformation, and there is a clear determination to deliver products and access channels that will attract and serve a new generation of credit union members.
“As credit unions continue to engage with the project, 2016 promises to be a momentous year for Britain’s credit union movement.”

Board Assessment
Our members may not be aware of all the work that goes on “behind the scenes” to make sure our Credit Union is governed in the best possible way.

Each year HEYCU's directors conduct a self-evaluation survey, to help them monitor how well they perform as a board, and as individual directors, and discover any areas for improvement.   Each director completes a questionnaire which is then sent confidentially to an independent assessor, who collates all the results and presents them with an Assessment Report.  The annual survey has now run for three years, so it's possible to observe trends in each area.  

The areas covered and a summary of the Assessor’s latest findings are:
·        Board performance - here the overall score was 85% in 2013; 85.2% in 2014 and 88.2% in 2015, showing that the directors feel the Board is working together better than ever.
·        Strategic management - 2014's big increase has been maintained, reflecting the significant work done on two major projects - the North Lincs CU merger and the Credit Union Expansion Project (CUEP)
·        Board governance - the score is up to 82% this year (80.7% in 2014) and only dented slightly by some concerns about lack of diversity in the Board's membership.
·        Individual director performance - an average score of 87.7% (84% in 2014) shows a confident and accomplished team of directors who really do perform well together.
·        When asked what issues had occupied the Board this year, most directors quoted CUEP, the merger, business planning and the loans strategy, with the merger being the stand out success they took special satisfaction from.  Diversity and a good mix of skills are key areas they feel need addressing, while in the coming year they feel the board should focus specially on increasing the Credit Union’s loan activity, CUEP and attracting new members.

The Assessor summed up his report with "Volunteer directors are not easy to keep motivated and focused yet the results of three years of surveying board performances show evidence of consistency that would impress the staunchest Investors in People assessors."  "The leadership of HEYCU must take some credit for the creation of a cohesive board team" and "this survey ... allows greater scrutiny of the workings of the Board of Directors than many similar businesses would allow".   

We hope our member-owners take some pride in these findings, but we will not rest in our aim of working towards world class standards of governance here at HEYCU.

Business Start-up Loans
Do you know anyone who is planning to start their own business, or who has been running one for less than two years? If so, why not tell them about our Business Start-up Loan?   It could be just what is needed to put their new business on the ladder of success.

Applicants can be considered for loans of up to £25,000 per business, repayable over 12 to 60 months.   The interest rate is a very competitive 6.19% APR.  

We can also make available free mentoring and other special offers.

Applications are open to most kinds of businesses – we know for example that people are thinking about the business opportunities that Hull City of Culture 2017 and beyond will bring.
For details of the information we will require to consider a loan please visit our web page.

Member Satisfaction Survey Q&As
Here's another question that a member raised in this year's Member Survey and our response:
Q:  Could members be informed if their money would be better in a higher interest account?
A:  As a Credit Union we are not allowed to advertise rates of interest on dividend-bearing savings accounts.  Returns on different accounts are in the form of a dividend (share of profits) which is declared at the AGM in December each year and posted to accounts the next day.  On our website we show the dividends paid on each account over the last few years, so that members have an idea of past returns (although these cannot be a guarantee of future returns).  The savings accounts we offer have slightly different terms and conditions (some are instant access; others have limits on withdrawals etc) so members can judge for themselves which one is best for their needs.

Get organised for Christmas 2016

Get organised for next Christmas with our special Saver account - an ideal way to save for the festive season 

·        Be prepared and save in advance

·        Easy ways to pay in whenever you like

·        We’ll look after your money safely 

If you've never had a Christmas Saver with us before, we'll match your first deposit up to £10 when you open one.   If you live in Northern Lincolnshire, your friend can also earn £5 for referring you!


Thursday, 5 November 2015

Beginning of November

Christmas Saver pay out time!
We're now into the busiest season of the year, with the start of the Christmas Saver pay-outs this week as well as hundreds of members popping in (or going on line) to arrange their Christmas Loans.  It's always a hectic time for our staff and volunteers but also a very satisfying one as we try to play our part in helping our members to "get Christmas sorted" once again.  But please bear with us and be understanding if we take a little longer than usual to deal with applications.  We will get back to everyone just as soon as we can.

International Credit Union Day
On 15 October we marked this important event in the Credit Union Calendar with a New Member Recruitment Session at County Hall in Beverley.  Sandra and Susan from Central Office were there to sign up the employees of East Riding of Yorkshire Council for saving by payroll deduction.  We gained quite a few new members, one of whom was in the money straight away as she won the prize draw - well done Gill Drury, hope you enjoy spending your Say Shopping vouchers!

At Hull Central Carmel put on an international display in the foyer on the theme "People helping People" and gave out goodies to visitors.  When I walked by there was a member with her young son studying the display and he managed to name correctly all the international flags!  When I explained about International Credit Union Day, the Mum said joining us had been one of the best things she had done.

My trip to the seaside
Last week I headed over to Withernsea to take some flyers to the Town Council for door to door distribution and found they'd moved their offices to the Meridian Centre, a fine old building in the town centre that I remember as the Co-op Department Store, before it became a club/pub, and more recently has been under seemingly endless renovation.

Mrs Anne Blake, last year's Mayor, treated me to a guided tour of the building which is a fantastic resource for the town!  The top floor houses a big screen cinema and function suite, while at ground level there's a large meeting room with tables, Council chamber, and offices for hire.  I do hope the people of Withernsea and the surrounding area are going to support this impressive new facility - it deserves to succeed. 

I then popped into a cafe and at the next table a family were discussing money.  They were chatting about their grand-daughter saving with a school bank.  "It's with the Credit Union", they said, "and it's done wonders to teach her the value of money and all about saving regularly".  Of course my ears pricked up and I just had to introduce myself (they might have been our members) but it turned out the grand-daughter lived in Sheffield and saved with one of Sheffield Credit Union's school banks, which apparently are just like ours.

After a quick call at the Council's Withernsea Centre and The Shores to renew contacts, I picked up the latest Seaside Radio Magazine (we are in there with money tips for Christmas!) to read on the bus home.

Hull 2017 - it's not all about a logo
I attended another briefing at Hull Truck about our forthcoming City of Culture year.  The place was packed to the rafters with business leaders and it was the day they unveiled the new Hull 2017 logo.   Well, I've learnt that the one thing that's guaranteed to stir up the good folks of Hull is the launch of a new logo.  We've had loads of them over the years, from crowns to sailing boats, to cogs and silhouettes of buildings, and goodness knows what else.  All resulted in reams of column inches in the Hull Daily Mail as people vented their feelings - mainly negatively - about the latest idea.  And that's before we even mention (dare I) that this one was designed in Sheffield!

But hang on a minute!  It's only a logo - surely it's what we do with our City of Culture opportunity that really matters - the events, the contacts, the foundations laid for a prosperous future.  The logo is just a way of identifying things related to it.   Let's face it, it would be impossible to design one that everybody likes.  And remember, it's not even the "brand" - the "Hull brand" is much more than a logo, it's all the things that make our city what it is, and can be - the experience our visitors will remember about us when they return home.

As I write these notes, I've just returned from Liverpool (had to attend a meeting there about Credit Union regulation).  They were European Capital of Culture in 2008.  As you walk around the city centre, with its impressive architecture (like Hull's), you can see how they have benefited.  The city, once a rundown place with little hope, now has a confident air about it, and looks like somewhere that's on the up.  And so it will be here - so let’s try to be positive.

(I quite like the logo, by the way, it's clever)  Well, now I've got that off my chest . . .

School Banks News
I was very pleased to see that we had 40 new Junior Savers in the month of October.  Many came through the new autumn intake at our primary schools, especially the schools starting Pennies 2 Pounds for the first time, such as Aldbrough.  But some of the established ones have also done well with recruitment.  Giving our youngsters a fun way to save is such a good investment in their future.

Our next launch comes at Appleton Primary School in the North-West corner of Hull, on 12 November.   I must admit to having special interest in this one as I am on the School Governing body there, and it's where my own children enjoyed their early school life.

We recently had an enquiry from Hilderthorpe Primary School in Bridlington about starting a school bank.  Rita was quickly "on the case" and plans are afoot for a launch in January. 

Could you be one of our Directors?
It's the time of year when we invite members to consider volunteering for election to our Board of Directors.  There will be five vacancies to be filled at the AGM on 8 December, and only three existing directors will be eligible to apply, leaving two clear vacancies to be contested for.

If the idea of being part of a Board (team) helping to decide the strategy and policies of one of the most successful and forward-looking credit unions in Britain appeals to you, why not put yourself forward?  

You can find out more about the role of Credit Union director on our website.  You'll need to commit a bit of time (but it can easily be combined with a job or other voluntary activities) and we are looking for people who are passionate about credit unions and what they stand for.   It's an important role but, guess what, you won't get paid for it!  It's completely voluntary (although travel and out of pocket expenses can be reimbursed).   Imagine being a director of a bank and not getting paid any fee, never mind a fat-cat bonus!  Well, it's one of the things that makes us different, and, as many of our members would say, better than a bank.

If you're still unsure about it, one of our directors, Emma, has written about her experiences as a recently-elected director of HEYCU.  Read it here.   You are also welcome to call me for an informal chat if you wish.

Anyone who wishes to stand will need to get their Nomination Form to the CU Central Office by 6 pm on Monday 23 November. 

Remembrance Day
On Wednesday 11 November at 11 am we will take part in the two minute silence to commemorate those who gave their lives in the service of the country.  In Hull the start and end of this act of remembrance is traditionally marked by the firing of cannon in the city centre.

TV Screen - Scunthorpe Branch
Have you been into our Scunthorpe Branch recently?  If so, you'll probably have seen the TV screen over the counter, like the ones we have in Hull Central.  We use the screens to show changing messages that will interest our members while they are waiting to be served.  It saves plastering the walls with lots of notices that can soon get out of date.

Rent Direct and Jam Jar Accounts go-live
HEYCU is working with Hull City Council to pilot a Rent Direct service in readiness for the launch of Universal Credit in the city early next year.   Universal Credit, the new state benefit replacing six other welfare payments, will be paid monthly and tenants will be responsible for making sure their rent is paid on time.  That’s where we come in.  Hull City Council tenants will be able to set up a Rent Direct account to receive their Universal Credit.  We will make sure their rent is paid when due and the spare funds will be made available either loaded on to a Prepaid Debit Card, transferred to a bank account or collected from a branch in cash.  
Tenants using this service will have peace of mind knowing that their rent is sorted without effort or fuss.  What’s more, they know that any money left over is actually theirs.   Hull City Council is supporting the scheme, so that it can be provided for their tenants free of charge.  

Alongside this service is a Jam Jar account which enables users, for a fee of less than £1 a week, to let the Credit Union look after other regular payments (as well as rent), so that users never need worry about bank charges or missing payments again.   It’s a hassle free way to take control of your finances, and can be used by anyone, whether in receipt of wages, benefits or pensions.

For more information on how to set up a Rent Direct or Jam Jar account, contact Hull City Council on 01482 300300, Hull Families Project on 01482 809333 or the Credit Union on 01482 775783.

If you are a landlord and would like to work with us to provide a similar service for your tenants, please get in touch.   Email jsmith@hullandeycu.co.uk

Take a fresh look at Credit Union Loans!
This month we are urging anyone thinking about borrowing money to give us a chance to meet their needs.  Try us, rather than your bank, and see if we can offer you a deal that saves you some money.  And you can now apply online!   Take a look at the Loans page of our website and see how easy it is.


As a little “thank you”, we will enter everyone who gets a loan from us in November into a prize draw to win £100.   

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

W/c 12 October

Hull Fair is here again!
Well, it's that time of year when what is known as the Biggest Travelling Funfair in Europe rolls into town!   Yes, it's Hull Fair Week and judging by the huge crowds descending on the Walton Street Fairground each evening as I pass by (ever so slowly, mind) in my homeward bus, everyone seems to be well aware of it.   But for those of my readers who don't live round here and haven't ever heard the phrase "Hull Fair weather", or sampled the tasty delights of a bag of Hull Fair Brandy Snap, I just thought I'd mention it so that you might consider visiting our "fair city" and seeing what all the fuss is about. 

A thrilling victory for our Eastern Raiders FC 
On Saturday my wife and I had the great pleasure of popping over to Goole to watch a football game played by our sponsored team, Eastern Raiders.  The Credit Union had sponsored the match balls and so I was invited to a photo call to present them to the team before the kick off.  We thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the Raiders didn't disappoint for one second!  In a thrilling end-to-end encounter they smashed their opponents. Orchard Park, 5-1 to retain their place at the top of Division Two, East Riding County League. Mind you, Orchard Park promised revenge when the return fixture is played at their ground!  Up the Raiders!

Are you looking to move house?
If you are a Council tenant or a Housing Association tenant in Hull and fancy moving to a smaller or larger home, did you know that you can mutually exchange?   Hull City Council and partners are hosting a House Swap Event at the Mortimer Suite (Paragon Street entrance), Hull City Hall on Wednesday 14 October, from 9 am to 12.30 pm.   Come along and see what it's all about.  We'll be having a Credit Union stand there, to make people aware of our new Rent Direct and Jam Jar Accounts (supported by Hull City Council) and affordable credit for people needing to furnish their new homes, among other services we offer.

Looking forward to International Credit Union Day
Another exciting happening this week comes on Thursday 15th October, when it's International Credit Union Day. Credit unions all over the world are planning events to promote our movement's many achievements.  This year's theme is "People helping People", the idea being to raise awareness of how credit unions help people to pool their money and make loans to each other.

We'd like to think that our members would see this as a great opportunity to spread the word about what they like about credit unions, be proud of their membership of this wonderful "worldwide family", and try to join up a friend, relation, work colleague or other associate.

What are we doing here at HEYCU to celebrate?  
·        Well, a little bird tells me that if you pop into our Hull Central branch in Brook Street, there may be a few little treats in store, and the place will have an international look about it!
·        At County Hall in Beverley, from 12 noon to 2 pm we'll have a recruitment stand outside Room 7 again, where East Riding of Yorkshire Council workers can find out all about saving with us regularly direct from their pay and, if they wish, sign up on the spot.  Last year's event was very popular so we're hoping that those who joined then will tell their workmates what a great benefit it has been and urge them to join!  Council staff who sign up this week (12-17 October), either at the event, online or in branch, will be entered into a prize draw to win a £20 shopping voucher.
·        Watch out for our First Person article in Thursday's Hull Daily Mail, which I have written with an International Credit Union Day flavour.
·        If you take any pictures of an ICU Day event, please send them in to our Facebook page, so we can share them with credit union friends around the world.

Now, for those of you who are really keen on history:
The first International Credit Union Day was held in 1948 but credit unions go back much further than that, to early 19th century Europe.  In 1846-7 Hermann Schulze-Delitzsch and Friedrich Raiffeisen laid the foundations for the first credit unions when Germany was devastated by famine.  In 1849 Schulze-Delitzsch, a judge, founded a "thrift and loan association" which included 57 shoemakers who had been affected by industrialisation.  Raiffeisen was mayor of several villages in the German Westerwald province and wanted to help farmers to set up co-operatives to improve their lives. In 1862 a charitable association in the town of Heddesdorf that he founded became a credit society where members' deposits were used to make loans to other members. 

It's amazing to think that our modern day movement, comprising 57,000 Credit Unions with 217 million members in 105 countries sprang from such modest roots.  

Christmas Saver time approaches
There's less than three weeks to go before you eager Christmas Savers can access your money and go festive shopping.  It's an exciting time as all that scrimping and saving pays off and you can finally get Christmas "sorted".   Those who opened a new account earlier in 2015 should find a little extra in your account as your Matched Bonus, plus dividend, gets added on.

We've sent out letters and emails to members at certain branches (outside Hull) asking how and when you'd like your funds.  Please help us plan for this busy season by completing your letter and dropping it into a branch (or you can fax, email or post it back if you’d prefer), and we will organise it for you.

Year end challenges
Our Year End passed smoothly on 30 September and we had our final accounts drafted by the next morning and away to the auditors, a record that we have achieved for many years now.  It's a personal challenge for me and my Management Team and this year we had the extra task of merging in all the accounts of the former North Lincolnshire Credit Union, but thanks to the diligence of our Scunthorpe branch colleagues all was accomplished painlessly.  Now we have the auditors in and we are keeping fingers crossed that they will give us a "clean bill of health" so that the directors can make a good report to our members at the AGM on Tuesday 8 December on their stewardship of our members' funds. 

Northern Lincolnshire Partnership Officer
We have shortlisted candidates for this role and the interviews will be held next week.  So we hope to have someone in post very soon to help develop our business across Northern Lincolnshire.  Watch this space!

Pennies 2 Pounds
We are delighted to announce that another Pennies2Pounds school bank was launched on 7 October, at Aldbrough Primary School on the Holderness coast.

There's an Autumn Term Competition on our website that any of our Junior Savers can enter this month.  Take a look - there's some good prizes to be won.

Bulk Oil Buying Scheme
Now the weather is turning chilly, it's time to switch on the heating.  Many residents in our rural communities are not connected to the gas mains and depend on oil to heat their homes.  Keeping their oil tanks filled can be an expensive business but fortunately there is a Bulk Oil Buying Scheme, run by the Humber & Wolds Rural Community Council (H&WRCC), they can join to help them obtain the very best buying terms. 

Even so, having to fork out all at once for a tank full of oil can be a major challenge for many people.  That's where we can help.  We’re partnering with H&WRCC to offer bulk buyers a way to either save up regularly with us towards oil purchases, or alternatively apply for a loan to spread the cost over an extended period.

Peter Hirschfeld of H&WRCC says, "The YORSwitch Oil Buying Scheme is a form of co-operative, so the more oil users that take part, the better buying terms we can obtain from oil suppliers.  We are pleased to have the Credit Union working with us to offer additional ways to help our members make their oil purchases more affordable."

The scheme has recently been extended to North Lincolnshire, as well as across East Yorkshire.

Don't pay more than you need to for Christmas

We're running a campaign highlighting how a small loan from a Credit Union offers an unbeatable deal when compared with alternatives. Take a look at some comparisons for typical Christmas loans and you'll see what I mean.  We don't see why anyone should pay more than they need to for Christmas, so please help us to spread the word.  Members can now apply for their Credit Union loan online too.