The Supreme Award for Great Britain and Ireland – given to the highest aggregate score achieved across all Award categories. Having been Runner Up in 2016 and raising its competencies year on year with the highly beneficial effect of improving its services for its owner-members, Prince Bishops Community Bank won a record number of categories and achieved the highest aggregate score overall.
Having been involved with the credit union movement since 1996 and following the merger of five credit unions in the county borough in 2003, Ian Gylee continued to serve on the Board of Directors and accepted the position of President, still volunteering in his local office each week, including working on the counter. His excellent rapport with members, staff and fellow Directors is coupled with his ability to discern when to lead and when to let others take responsibility, which has seen Dragonsavers thrive.
Appointed Commsave’s General Manager in 2005, Amanda Ivey has been responsible for phenomenal growth. By investing in a Communications Officer and Business Development Officer and improved communication with all staff through a “Workplace Champions” network, over 3 years net membership increased by 74%. Through her own personal development, Amanda leads the way in encouraging CPD in all staff, as well as internal promotions through Commsave’s own apprenticeship scheme.
Joining SYCU 2 years ago, Beth’s ability to assimilate information quickly and accurately, saw her move into the Special Projects Team - this reports directly to the Chief Executive Officer, the team has no set responsibilities, able to react quickly to any unforeseen situations. Her projects include a highly successful Tenant Support Scheme; addressing difficulties in implementing Universal Credit; staff training and community outreach.
After many years with Dragonsavers, in 2014 Chris was promoted to Head Office Supervisor, developing her own leadership skills and encouraging development in others. Responsible for the Head Office admin staff, she also supports the Finance Manager with the back office accountancy function. Quoted as “Professional, dedicated, trustworthy, disciplined and resilient given the responsibility of a demanding office”, Chris is also known for being very approachable.
Prince Bishops Community Bank has a history of working with numerous primary schools in its Common Bond area, now including two academy secondary schools with Money Management on their curriculum; encouraging a saving rather than a credit culture, setting them on a non-credit path. Working with a local housing provider, PBCB assists in the delivery of ‘Smart Money‘ courses. Check out their film here
Commsave’s successes include increasing income - through a range of short term investment accounts; reducing bad debt/writeoffs - supporting owner-members in difficulties through their Member Solutions team; increasing membership by investing in Communications and Business Development Officers, improving communication via a network of Workplace Champions and utilising social media. Through monthly and annual surveys, encouraging and acting on owner-members’ feedback.
Prince Bishops Community Bank demonstrated innovative ideas, such as providing green energy loans in areas where there are housing energy, renewal and external insulation programmes are being instigated and partnership with “Smarterbuys” Store - a stand-alone Charity - providing an ethical alternative to high interest weekly payment stores with a save-as-you-pay element. When an HP agreement is taken out, a customer automatically becomes a member of PBCB and part of the weekly payment (automatically included in the customer’s weekly loan payment) is deposited into their credit union savings account.
Killarney supports micro and small businesses as well the agri-market in the South Kerry region, focusing on small scale businesses such as tradespeople, retail, services, hospitality and farming, helping develop businesses with low environmental impact, protecting the vital tourism industry and providing local employment in the county. Through links with local grant aid agencies, entrepreneurs are supported with business skills and training needs the credit union cannot offer. While many credit unions are reluctant to enter business lending due to possible high risks, the many benefits to the local economy outweigh the negatives and keep the credit union at the forefront in supporting the local economy.
Along with other winning credit unions, both Prince Bishops and Dragonsavers have nurtured close contacts with local constituent MPs and dignatories, their local councils, etc. gaining support in bringing the benefits of credit unions to their communities. The Judges were impressed by Prince Bishops work assisting Guy Opperman, MP, in setting up two credit unions in the north east. Leanne Wood, Leader of Plaid Cymru was filmed enthusiastically supporting Dragonsavers; it also works closely with the Welsh Assembly.
As a community led organisation, Killarney is heavily involved in local sponsorship and promotion, each year giving over €20,000 in sponsorship to local clubs, charities, events and organisations, a detailed list on its website includes local sports clubs, schools, charities, events and fundraisers.
In April 2017, launching the "Your Club, Your Credit Union" competition, with the aim of encouraging a younger membership (18 to 35). The focus was on getting local sports clubs’ members to join the credit union in return for the chance of winning €1,000 of sports equipment or cash alternative for their club of choice. The various sports clubs (football, hurling, basketball, golf, tennis, rugby) made videos encouraging their club members to join up and nominate their club to win the prize; publicised via social media with promotional material also in local schools.
Prince Bishops’ successful methods included running a home energy service, advising on how to switch to better tariffs and applying for the Warm Home Discount. Attending local housing association Tenant Welcome days. Advising offenders in HMP Prisons via the “Through The Gate” programme, helping them to manage their money, build up savings and providing access to PBCB’s services on release. Also, through the Payroll Deduction Scheme, contact was made with owner-members in financial difficulties, who were offered support and where relevant low cost loans, assisting them with paying off payday lenders.
Visit the Videos section, highlighting how Salford increased membership by engaging in all aspects of social media, radio features and articles in Council publications and other local magazines. Taking every opportunity to engage with local people and community leaders, Directors, volunteers and staff wear T-shirts advertising the credit union at all community events.
During a “Week of Awareness” in 2016 (coinciding with International Credit Union Day), a “smoothie cycle” with the headline “Breaking the Cycle of Poverty in Salford”, provided a range of PR stunts, creating photo opportunities with the Mayor, local MPs, councillors etc, as well as publicity in the local press and on local radio.
Born of a Co-op leader parents, Justine followed their footsteps. At just 13, she was selected to form and organize the “Coop Youth Planet” (CYP) a youth program of Lamac Multi-purpose Co-operative, rising through its ranks to Chairperson. This film, describes the work of the Coop Youth Planet. See “Biden DE of the Year from Asia” for more about Justine.
By winning the Beacon Credit Union Award, Commsave Credit Union demonstrated it met many of the laid down criterie, i.e.