23Mar/20

IMPORTANT – COVID 19 Update –

IMPORTANT – COVID 19 Update

Changes to customer Communications

Offices
Please note our offices will be manned although will not be open to the public this week, an exception will be made for members who rely on cash withdrawals and members who make an appointment.  This may change as the situation develops and staff will work from home to ensure business continuity.

Post
Please be aware we have limited access to retrieve post from some of our offices. Therefore if you must post please send to the Gateshead Office, 11 Interchange Centre West Street, Gateshead NE8 1BH

Email
This is the preferred method of communication to enable us to deal with your enquiry as quickly as possible;
Service Enquiries Email
Share Withdrawals gateshead@nefirstcu.co.uk
Difficulty making loan payments north.shields@nefirstcu.co.uk
Payroll deductions durham@nefirstcu.co.uk
New Loan Applications birtley@nefirstcu.co.uk
Membership Enquiries stanley@nefirstcu.co.uk

Telephone
Our lines are diverted to a limited number of mobile phones, please use this method of communication if you don’t have access to email in order for us to be able to cope with the volumes calls.

23Mar/20

AGM 2020 Chairman’s Report

AGM 2020 Chairman’s Report

The following reports are concerning our last full accounting year, which ended on 30 September 2019.  However, since I wrote this, we have been struck by Covid-19 and the whole country is in an unprecedented struggle, involved to ameliorate the effects of this virus so many things seem to have been overtaken by events.  My first thought then is that you all will be able to keep yourselves and your families safe from this awful epidemic

The financial year which ended on 30 September 2019 was a busy one.  The first three months were characterised by a great deal of ‘behind the scenes’ work to follow through on our two recent mergers with Prince Bishops Community Bank and with Northumberland Credit Union in 2018.

In December 2018, we received a visit from one of our regulators, the Prudential Regulation Authority (part of the Bank of England).  This took place because our recent growth has put us into the group of larger Credit Unions, which the PRA visits on a regular basis.  The PRA made a number of helpful recommendations which the board accepted and have implemented in full.

A number of directors and staff members have ‘stepped up’ to take over the roles of the directors who unfortunately left the Board, and I am extremely grateful to them for doing so.  I want to particularly thank Joanne Angus our Chief Operating Officer for the amazing work that she has done to keep the Credit Union functioning, and also all the staff who have responded magnificently to the challenges we had to face in the last financial year and continue to do so in this financial year. Of course, we could not run our business without our wonderful, dedicated volunteers who run our collection points and work in our offices – so a huge thank you to you all.

I am pleased to let you know that a former member of our Supervisory Committee, John Lavery, a qualified accountant and former accounting lecturer, has taken over as Treasurer of NEFirst. We are very grateful to him for stepping in at very short notice and for his continuing work as treasurer.

In July 2019, it was identified that we had a growing problem of members struggling to repay their loans on time. The Board responded decisively to this problem by making more provision to meet bad and doubtful debts.  This involved setting more money aside for provisioning finding ways to reduce costs and tightening-up our lending policy.  Those of you who have applied for loans, and those of you who have helped other members to apply will know that we have reduced our maximum loan to £5,000, and we now ask to see members’ bank statements so that we do not lend money to members who will find it too difficult to repay the loans.

I am pleased to tell you that this action has brought the problem firmly under control, but it does mean that we do not have enough money to pay our members a dividend on their savings this year so the Board will not be proposing one at the AGM.

Many of you will know that NEFirst works with a wide range of partner organisations.  We are grateful to them all, but this year I would like to thank Durham County Council and Gateshead Council in particular who are our largest and most supportive partners.  Their support this year has been crucial and as a result, representatives of both councils have been nominated to join our Board.  I would like to thank both councils for their very great support over the last year.

Next year promises to be an exciting one too, especially because we intend to introduce a Mobile Application which will allow all of our members to put money into or take it out of their accounts from their own computer, tablet or smart phone.  This will make life so much easier for you all and also allow us to make staff cost savings.  However, this system has some upfront costs which cannot be met from our current income, so we intend to introduce an annual charge of £5 on all our adult accounts to help us pay for this. These charges will be reviewed annually.

We also intend to introduce ‘Child Benefit Loans’; these are loans which we grant to families, which are repaid by having their Child Benefit paid directly into the Credit Union.  They are ideal for things like white goods, furniture, school uniforms and so on and have been found to be very helpful to families in other parts of the country.

I am sorry that we have had to postpone our AGM this year, but in the meantime if you would like to ask questions of the Board, as you would be able to at an AGM, please email them to us at nefirstcu@gmail.com.

In the meantime, may I wish you and your families and friends a happy and healthy year – as safe from the Corona Virus as you possibly can be!

Yours sincerely

Peter Mackie

Chair NEFirst Credit Union

17Mar/20

COVID19 IMPORTANT MESSAGE

COVID19 IMPORTANT MESSAGE

Dear Members,

Here at NEFirst Credit Union, we take the safety of our staff, our volunteers and our members very seriously so  we are busy putting  together contingency plans in the event that our offices have to close due to the Coronavirus and just wanted to let you know how we plan to provide our face to face services.

Currently our offices will remain open as follows;
Stanley Office Lenin Terrace Wednesdays only 9.30 a.m. until 3.3
0 p.m.
Gateshead Office West Street 9.30 a.m. and 3.30p.m.

Please note that in order to protect staff and members some of our Collection Points especially those in community buildings etc. may not be open.  If your collection point is not available, and you are concerned about payments, please contact one of the offices for advice.
Tel: 03300553666 or email: gateshead@nefirstcu.co.uk

Should our main offices be forced to close (either due to self-isolation or government legislation) we have systems in place to enable some staff to work from home. We can assure you that our “Cloud Systems” are fully compliant with GDPR and that all of your records will remain as secure as if we were working from our offices.

If we do have to close to the public, we will be working either from home of or in one of our offices in different shifts, to minimise disruption of our services. The priority will be to get payments to our customers especially those who don’t have access to regular banking.

At present we do not have any problems within our offices, however, should the circumstances change we will advise you as soon as possible.  Please be assured even if our offices are forced to close, we will aim to keep our telephone lines open and will be answered as usual during office hours.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to us on 0330 055 3666

PLEASE CONTINUE TO VIEW OUR WEB SITE OR FACEBOOK FOR ANY CHANGES TO THE SITUATION.

 Invitation to our Annual General Meeting 30th March 2020
It may become necessary to Postpone the AGM which would be in breach of our Rules. Any breech of our rules leaves us vulnerable to action being taken against us. However, if we have the consent of our members to postpone the AGM this will limit the risk of action being taken against us. Therefore, please contact us as soon as possible if you object to any postponement of the AGM. If we do not here from you by the 26th of March, we will presume under the circumstances that there are no objections. 

PLEASE CONTINUE TO VIEW OUR WEB SITE OR FACEBOOK FOR ANY CHANGES TO THE SITUATION.

01May/19

IMPORTANT NOTICE

IMPORTANT NOTICE

Temporary Change of Business Hours
With effect from week commencing 6th May
2019, the office based at Lenin Terrace, Stanley, will operate between the
hours:-
9.30am – 4.00pm every Wednesday only.

Customer services will continue to be available to you
at both our Gateshead Office on West Street or at our Birtley Office, based in
Birtley Leisure Centre on Durham Road.

You can contact us by telephone or email:-
Tel: 0330 055 3666
Email: Gateshead@nefirstcu.co.uk
or
Birtley@nefirstcu.co.uk

Our brand new office at Front Street, Stanley, will be
opening soon and we look forward to you joining us as we continue to develop our member services.

Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience
caused during this temporary arrangement
.

Many Thanks.

14Aug/17

NEFirst launches sponsorship of Bishop Auckland FC

NEFirst launches sponsorship of Bishop Auckland FC

NEFirst Credit Union officially launched their sponsorship of Bishop Auckland Football Club on Saturday (August 12).

The Credit Union invited figures from around the region to attend the launch, which took place at Bishop Auckland’s first home game of the season.

The Bishop of Durham Paul Butler was among those who attended the event to show his support for the sponsorship.

NEFirst Credit Union, who will be the club’s main sponsor for the 2017/18 season, provide access to straightforward, secure savings accounts and affordable loans and provide an alternative to the higher-cost lenders that feature on the shirts of several professional clubs.

Peter Mackie, chair of NEFirst, said: “We are delighted to be sponsoring Bishop Auckland Football Club and it was great to be able to launch the partnership publicly on Saturday.

“As a credit union, we are member focussed and community based and this agreement will allow us engage with more people in the area.

“We are committed to offering an alternative to high-cost or illegal lenders and hopefully through the awareness this deal raises, more people will be able to benefit from the products we offer.

“And with several professional clubs promoting high-cost lenders, it is great to have the opportunity to showcase the other, lower cost options people have available to them.”

One of the driving forces behind the deal was the opportunity for the two organisations that share the same core values to collaborate.

Both organisations are community focussed and this is something that has brought them together. NEFirst is a not for profit organisation owned and run by its members.

Bishop Auckland FC’s Commercial Director Dave Mills is very enthusiastic about the deal and said: “This partnership is the flagship and most prestigious sponsorship, advertising and marketing product at Bishop Auckland Football Club.

“It provides NEFirst Credit Union the opportunity to become the club’s major commercial partner and prominently stand side by side with the football club, in all aspects of its business, throughout the period of the agreement.

“The partnership is about developing strong relationships, enhancing the brand of each partner and engaging with the local community. This forward-thinking partnership is built between the two organisations, who each take pride in performance and innovation, with an unwavering culture of integrity and success. I’m sure this public launch will be very well received by everyone associated with the football club.”

NEFirst Credit Union covers the whole of the North East, including County Durham, Northumberland and all of the boroughs that make up Tyne and Wear (Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland, North Tyneside and South Tyneside). Anyone who lives or works in this area is eligible to join.

NEFirst has four offices at Gateshead, Durham, Birtley and North Shields. It also has 45 Local Service Points across the region where people can sign up to become members, deposit money into their accounts, apply for loans and take out money from their savings.

NEFirst is committed to stamping out loan sharks.

The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) – a national team that investigate and prosecute loan sharks – have awarded Bishop Auckland FC with £5,000 of proceeds of crime money to use towards a project that helps raise awareness of the dangers of loan sharks to local residents and football fans.

The team will share shirt sponsorship with the credit union, as they try to get fans to turn away from loan sharks and start saving and borrowing with the credit union instead. As well as shirt sponsorship, IMLT will have information in match programmes, announcements at games, and will work with the club on social media campaigns throughout the season.

This funding has come from proceeds of crime money; cash confiscated from convicted loan sharks, following successful prosecutions.

A loan shark is someone who lends money without the correct authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “We are pleased to be working with Bishop Auckland FC to raise awareness of loan sharks to local residents and football fans.

“The football club have agreed to promote our stop loan sharks message and hotline number on their football kit and pitch banners.

“Loan sharks are criminals who prey on vulnerable individuals and exploit borrowers for personal financial gain. These lenders may appear to be offering a community service but borrowers are often forced to pay back far and above what they have borrowed and can afford.

“If you or someone you know has been the victim of a loan shark, please contact the team on 0300 555 2222 or visit the website www.stoploansharks.uk. We will accept information anonymously or in confidence.”

For more information about NEFirst visit www.nefirstcu.co.uk. For more information about Bishop Auckland FC visit www.bishopafc.com.

13Jul/17

NEFirst announced as Bishop Auckland FC’s main sponsor

Bishop Auckland Football Club have announced NEFirst Credit Union will be their new main sponsor.

One of the driving forces behind the decision was the opportunity to collaborate with a brand that shares the football club’s core values.

The deal is for one year initially, with the option of extending the partnership by a further 12 months.

The NEFirst logo will be displayed on the front of all BAFC’s first team playing shirts and replica shirts for the 2017-18 season.

NEFirst Credit Union provides access to straightforward, secure savings accounts and affordable loans.

It was formed by the merger of a number of smaller North East based Credit Unions who have been providing savings and loan accounts for their members for more than twenty years.

BAFC’s Commercial Director Dave Mills said: “This partnership is the flagship and most prestigious sponsorship, advertising and marketing product at Bishop Auckland Football Club.

“It provides NEFirst Credit Union the opportunity to become the club’s major commercial partner and prominently stand side by side with the football club, in all aspects of its business, throughout the period of the agreement.

“The partnership is about developing strong relationships, enhancing the brand of each partner and engaging with the local community. This forward-thinking partnership is built between the two organisations, who each take pride in performance and innovation, with an unwavering culture of integrity and success. I’m sure this announcement will be very well received by everyone associated with the football club.”

NEFirst Credit Union covers the whole of the North East, including County Durham, Northumberland and all of the boroughs that make up Tyne and Wear (Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland, North Tyneside and South Tyneside). Anyone who lives or works in this area is eligible to join.

Nick Postma, BAFC Chairman, added: “As a club that wants to be involved more with the community we are delighted to enter into a partnership with NEFirst to promote their financial services to the public.”

Mick Davison, Director of NEFirst, is equally enthusiastic about this agreement and said: “We’re delighted to be able to take the opportunity to sponsor Bishop Auckland FC. We look forward to working side by side with the club to enhance our brand and engage with the local community.

“We are keen to highlight that there are alternatives to high-cost or illegal lenders and this will provide a platform to help us do that.

“Credit Unions are member focussed, community based organisations and I believe these characteristics are shared by Bishop Auckland FC.”

The club will be making a further announcement in the next few days to inform everyone about when and how the new first team shirts will be available to purchase.

NEFirst is committed to stamping out loan sharks and works closely with the Durham Savers Project to support the local community.

26Apr/17

NEFirst Credit Union partners the County Council in the Durham Savers project

NEFirst Credit Union is proud to work in partnership with Durham County Council in the Durham Savers project which aims to prevent families falling into poverty and to help those in poverty to move out of poverty. The project fosters partnership between the credit union and a huge range of service providers because finance is at the heart of difficulties for families when nearly a quarter of children in the county live in poverty.  Moving the culture away from a dependence on high cost credit and toward affordable, ethical and accessible savings and borrowing connects with families’ needs in housing, health, advice and support.  The Durham Savers project enables NEFirst to offer services to more children and families so that we can all become Durham Savers.

26Apr/17

NEFirst’s payroll deduction scheme works for Andrew James…

NEFirst Credit Union is proud to offer saving by payroll deduction to employees of participating employers like Andrew James, who have found that this was straightforward for the employer and hugely rewarding for staff. It benefits the business by moving it toward being an employer of choice, as well as contributing toward achieving the Better Health at Work Award.

10Feb/17

NEFirst Credit Union celebrates growth in East Durham Area Action Partnership

Sid Rooke, Director NEFirst Credit Union presents ‘ceremonial’ cheque to members of East Durham AAP (Joyce Lovack, Edna Connor, Alan Miller and Malcolm Fallow) to celebrate the awarding of £500,000 worth of loans to the residents of East Durham.

From left to right: Sid Rooke (Director of the North East First Credit Union), Joyce Lovack (Shotton Residents Association), Councillor Edna Connor (Horden Youth and Community Centre), Alan Miller (Vice Chair East Durham Area Action Partnership), Malcolm Fallow (CEO of East Durham Trust).

Read more at: http://www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk/news/credit-Runion-sees-huge-growth-as-austerity-continues-to-bite-1-8380742