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In the latest of our series of blogs, NHS Credit Union Chief Executive Ruth Dorman reflects on an informative visit.


It was my pleasure recently to participate in a delegation from the NHS Credit Union to our twins at Health Services Staffs Credit Union in Dublin. I was accompanied by our Chair, Elaine Rae, and directors Elizabeth Degning, Margaret Bain and Tom Waterhouse.


Our credit unions have been twinned since December 2002 supporting the operating principles which underpin our movement;


  • Open and voluntary membership
  • Democratic control
  • Return of surplus to members
  • Inclusion
  • Ongoing education
  • Co-operation among co-operatives
  • Social responsibility


Both organisations believe in the true spirit of the co-operative movement worldwide, that to foster the co-operative sector in society, credit unions must actively co-operate with other credit unions, co-operatives and their national and international representatives and associates in order to best serve the interest of their members and their ‘community’.


The pledge between our credit unions states we will maintain permanent ties which foster positive exchanges between us to promote respect, understanding and celebration of our cultural similarities and differences and lasting friendships. To join forces to help ensure, to the utmost of our abilities, that our credit unions will be successful in bringing about financial stability, human and social development and justice for both of our individual members and the broader communities we serve.


The visit came as I entered my third month with the credit union it was a great opportunity to meet our twins at an early stage in my new role, to explore common issues, opportunities and challenges facing our members and the credit union movements in Scotland and Ireland.


I cannot thank Sean Hosford and his team enough for their hospitality and the learning which I personally gained from this early introduction to the Health Services Staff Credit Union. To quote our Chair: Thank you again on behalf of the Board at NHS CU. We had a great visit with so much to learn. Your kindness and generosity is a shining example of co-operative working.”


One great thing about the credit union movement is that those working in the industry can work together co-operatively, sharing ideas to impact positively on financial inclusion. So while my learning is on a steep curve I have amazing individuals from whom to draw such as their CEO Sean Hosford. Sean can be described as a “lifelong credit union activist”, and is regarded as one of the leaders of the Irish credit union movement. He has been CEO since 1990, and has served as Chairman of the Credit Union Managers Association (CUMA) on several occasions. Originally from Cork, Sean holds a Masters in Co-operatives and Social Enterprise from University College Cork.


Along with other staff, Sean and his Oversight Committee and Board of Directors provided two days of jam-packed information for us all. We were taken through what works and where the challenges are in terms of the strategic and operational direction of their credit union, along with the opportunities and challenges presented by the overarching legislation and regulation in Ireland. This differs significantly in some areas from the UK legislation and regulation, with the most striking examples for me being;


  • Interest rates applied to borrowing can never be more than 1% per month
  • Directors cannot be remunerated
  • Requirements to participate in transfers of engagement are made upon failing credit unions
  • Board Oversight Committees


This visit has been hugely worthwhile for our delegation and is the start of an exchange in learning which I am confident will mean our members reap the benefits along with our volunteer board and staff. I look forward to developing more co-operative relationships across the sector at home and abroad.


Ruth Dorman,


Chief Executive Officer, NHS Credit Union



These two pictures from the trip show HSS Credit Union President Marie McBryan and Director Brendan Fagan with NHS Credit Union Directors Elizabeth Degning and Margaret Bain; Chair Elaine Rae, and CEO Ruth Dorman, and Sean Hosford with Ruth Dorman

One of the biggest events on the credit union calendar is the ABCUL annual conference. Among the delegation from the NHS Credit Union attending the event was Product Delivery Officer Ruth Ryan. Our latest blog is Ruth’s conference diary.


Ruth Ryan, NHS Credit Union

This was my first Abcul conference, and I’ve got to admit that I was a little bit nervous about the situation.


However, it turned out to be a fantastic … if very busy … weekend and the rest of the NHS Credit Union team went out of their way to make me feel at ease.


Here’s a wee summary of how the weekend went:


FRIDAY: We were all up early to attend the Exhibition where we saw delegates from Kesho, Nivo and other teams we’ve been talking to. It was great to be able to put faces to the names.


Nivo had a lovely short video they filmed in our office recently on display at their stall. Very well done to all the NHSCU staff who were in it J


After the Exhibition, we attended The Plenary Session for the Regulatory Update with PRA & FCA. Speaker Shoib Khan spoke on behalf of the PRA, along with Lucy Castledine from the FCA and Matt Bland from Abcul.


Later on in the Afternoon, Product Delivery Manager Caroline Campbell and I attended our First workshop – Boosting Lending. The speakers were Jason from Nottingham Credit Union & Valerie from Plain Savers Credit union who both had some interesting thoughts and knowledge to share on their Credit Unions and how they managed to boost their lending by having same day decisions for loans and simply just knowing their members and what they expect.


On Friday evening we attended The Future of British Credit Union Movement where Robert Kelly, Paul Walsh and Dr. Brandi Stankovic spoke.


Brandi was certainly larger than life and kept the full room’s attention with her slideshow and information. She also used the app for the audience to take part in a survey.


There was also a pre-dinner speech by Karen Bennett (Abcul President) & Paul Walsh (Cuna Mutual Conference Sponsor)


The dinner/entertainment was fabulous, and as the singing waiters kept us all entertained, we socialised with others from all different credit unions around the UK.


SATURDAY: Caroline and I were up early to attend The Young Professionals Network Workshop.


It was so busy we could not get a seat, but it was very interesting listening to Paul Nograve CEO from the Police Credit Union on how important it is to back and train our young professionals and how important it is to have a contingency plan in place for the business. I was very inspired by this session as Paul was very young and he had obviously had previous management that had believed in him and helped him on his CU journey.


Caroline and I had a couple of hours free before our next workshop so we went sightseeing/shopping with our newest Board member Heather Dawes. It was great bonding with her and finding out why she joined the board and what she was looking for at the weekend.


Later that evening we all attended The Cu Futures Graduation/Awards Presentation. Our own Corporate Services Administrator, David Cairns, graduated from the CU Futures. Big Well Done to David. We are all so proud of you and have sore throats shouting for you.


It was also lovely seeing The Rose Dorman award being presented to a long-standing worker within the CU movement as Rose was the mum of our CEO Ruth Dorman.


All in all, it was a great experience and I would strongly encourage anyone who wants to go next year to put himself or herself forward as it is very beneficial. The weekend gave me a greater understanding of the credit union sector and opened my eyes to how amazing credit unions are and how much they help people.


I also enjoyed spending time with our Chair, Elaine Rae and board member Heather. I think that staff getting to know their board, and vice-versa, is beneficial to all.


My head is still in a state of information overload.


Thanks again for the opportunity.


Ruth Marie Ryan,
Product Delivery Officer, NHS Credit Union


Help us support some great causes


Your NHS Credit Union is proud to help care for the financial health of members all over the country. But I’m also delighted that the organisation is keen to play its part in supporting the wider health community.


Ruth Dorman, CEO NHS Credit Union

As part of this drive, in recent years, we have supported efforts to help fund the new Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice in Glasgow. And this year we are backing two charities – Bobath Scotland and Penumbra.


Our aim with these partnerships is to do much more than donate money to them – although that will be a big part of the campaign.


We are keen for members, staff and directors to all get involved in a number of initiatives that will not only raise much needed finance, but will also help raise awareness of the work done by our charity partners.


Such efforts – by members, staff and directors – helped us raise around £6,000 for the Hospice appeal. One of the biggest fundraisers was the Bubble Bath run in Bellahouston Park where a Credit Union team took part in a fun challenge and raised hundreds of pounds for the cause.


Later this summer, we will offer members the chance to get involved in a couple of major fund-raising initiatives for Bobath and Penumbra. More details will follow nearer the time, but here’s a brief glimpse into what these charities do.


Bobath Scotland provides therapy for children and adults with cerebral palsy throughout Scotland, while Penumbra is one of Scotland’s largest mental health charities, supporting around 1600 adults and young people every week.


We’ll be looking for you – our members – to get involved with those initiatives, but we are already looking ahead to next year and seeking your support.


The credit union’s Annual General Meeting will be held in December, at which time members will approve our charity partners for next year.


However, rather than the team here naming that partnership, we are asking our members to nominate worthy causes for consideration.


If there is a charity that has made a difference to you or your family, this could be the opportunity to return that favour. Nominate them as our charity partner for next year and there could be around 18,000 people backing their cause.


All you need to do to nominate a potential charity partner is to email with the name of the organisation and brief details of why you think we should support them.


A panel of Credit Union members will look at nominations and develop a proposal to put to the membership at the AGM.


Here’s your chance to ensure that your favourite charity enters into a partnership with NHS Credit Union members all over the country. I look forward to receiving your nominations and seeing us all play a part in supporting charity work.


Ruth Dorman,


Chief Executive Officer, NHS Credit Union

Our new Chief Executive Officer, Ruth Dorman, outlines her hopes as she prepares to join the team at the NHS Credit Union. To find out more about Ruth, click on her picture.


Ruth Dorman, CEO NHS Credit Union

The aspirations and needs of the NHS Credit Union at this time present a unique opportunity for an experienced and passionate individual, so the role of Chief Executive Officer is one which I am delighted to be taking up.


I have spent my entire working life in Health and Social Care, but what cannot be seen from my career journey is the fact that I have been involved with the Credit Union movement since 1976. My parents – along with other family and friends – were instrumental in developing the Credit Union movement in Scotland and I have been an active member of one of the oldest Credit Unions in the country since then.


My career choices and core value base have been driven by my belief in people and the strength of communities, and hugely influenced by the hope and collective achievements I witnessed in those early years.


I view myself as an individual whose core personal values resonate with those of the NHS Credit Union, and I am acutely aware of the challenges facing our communities and Credit Unions in Scotland and beyond, now and in the coming years.


These include the realities of the vulnerability experienced within communities, not least through poverty, social exclusion and social expectations – and the myriad of financial services available and accessible to some, but most with competing agendas and profit driven outcomes. Compounded with less certain security of employment, pensions, benefits and housing, this is leading our communities into what can be described as a very uncertain time.


However, I appreciate a challenge and believe that improvement can be ongoing. I work to a set of beliefs that everyone can achieve positive outcomes. This should be integral and core to all areas of the Credit Union sectors, and the belief that building capacity in everyone can be a fundamental part of an organisation.


I have shown my commitment to that approach in various senior positions and currently participate in a peer mentoring system to ensure I never lose sight of the positives within the community.


I firmly believe that working together at a strategic level we can contribute to the discussion and the influence that Credit Unions bring to the strategic development and direction of financial services and poverty reduction in Scotland and beyond. Working together, we can exert a positive influence on the direction of travel and shape of the future for members, and in turn, broader communities.


I am energised by the expedience with which the not for profit sector can act, the initiative which can be harnessed and in particular the impact this can make locally, nationally and, occasionally, internationally.


I am an eternal optimist who applies my caring and compassionate nature in both my career and personal life.


At a recent development event, some of the terms colleagues used to described me were “brave, passionate, approachable, supportive, confidence builder”. I use all of these attributes and more to inform my ability to take the “long view” in relation to organisational steadiness and development ensuring I build “future proofing” into the work I undertake with the Boards I work with and staff groups. In conclusion, I am delighted to be joining the NHS CU family and will continue to develop the amazing work being delivered.


Ruth Dorman,


Chief Executive Officer, NHS Credit Union

Change for the better


back on track


It’s a fair bet that you’ve eaten more food and drunk more alcohol than usual over the last few weeks.


And it’s a racing certainty that you’ve spent more than you bargained for on Christmas.


The statistics on Christmas spending are staggering. Depending which survey you read, the total cost of the Big Day could be anything from £750 to £1,500 for every adult in the UK. And over the course of your life, that could add up to around £50,000 each that we’re forking out on presents, food and drink, Christmas parties, etc.


Bad enough that we spend a fortune on the “nice” things, but I was struck by one recent study which showed how much we quite literally throw away. Research suggests the average household will spend about £11.60 on Brussels Sprouts (only for most of them to be scraped off the plate and put in the bin at the end of the meal).


Then there’s the £101 average cost of over indulging and losing your new mobile phone – or falling asleep on the last bus and having to get a taxi home.


As if that’s not enough, there’s the damage all that food and drink does to your waistline. The British Heart Foundation reckons Brits will put on almost 20million stones in total over the festive period – the equivalent of almost 10,000 double-decker buses.


xmas costs

That’s the light-hearted look at the cost of Christmas, but the financial pressure can be no laughing matter. It’s estimated that more than 11million adults could still be paying off this year’s festive bills by the time Rudolph leads the sleighs out again next year.


While we can’t do anything about your festive intake of food or alcohol, your credit union can ease the financial stress that took the shine off Santa’s visit for thousands of families across the UK.


We can provide an ethical, affordable loan to help you pay off the bills quicker and avoid crippling interest charges.


But perhaps even more relevant in the long term, we can help you plan your festive spending better and prepare earlier for those bills.


By opening a Christmas savings account, you can start to put money aside – NOW – for the big day. Putting away as little as £15 each week will give you more than £700 in the Christmas Kitty by the time the serious spending starts for Santa 2019.


More important still, it will get you into the habit of saving regularly – and in advance – which can be a huge bonus when it comes to getting your finances back on track.


Christmas should be a happy, family occasion, but all too often the burden of debt weighs far too heavily on the shoulders of struggling mums and dads for them to enjoy the festivities.


Why not open your eyes to the NHS Credit Union and see how we can help?


You can find out more about our loans here …and get all the details of our Christmas Savings Account here.


Maureen Paterson,


Interim Chief Executive Officer & Head of Finance, NHS Credit Union

Joining family 


Exciting Time to join the family


When I joined the NHS Credit Union in September this year, I knew I was joining at a time of transition. Our previous CEO had recently left to join ABCUL, the trading association for credit unions, and we were reaching a huge milestone in celebrating our 20th anniversary in November 2018, ahead of the busy Christmas period.


On top of that, the role I was to fill as Business Development Manager was a brand new one for the credit union, and so it’s fair to say I expected the first few months to be a learning curve for all parties. After the initial settling period, I’ve no doubt that I’ve joined an organisation with a tangible, lasting and positive impact on all those involved.


Having previously worked in business development in the finance sector for several years, I knew I wasn’t taking a complete leap into the unknown. While this is true, there is one difference about the credit union sector that stands out to me more than anything else. In my short time here, I’ve been struck by the shared values and common goals throughout not only the NHS Credit Union, but the wider sector itself. From Board Directors to members, the belief in the beneficial impact of credit unions is universal.


This has been particularly apparent to me when visiting our fantastic NHS facilities and staff over the past few months, to promote the benefits of joining a credit union before the most expensive time of the year. After visiting numerous sites over the past few months, I’ve been delighted to hear from current members about the impact that joining has had on their financial wellbeing.


It’s not only our NHS staff who pay testament to how far we’ve come as a credit union either. I was proud and privileged to attend the NHS Credit Union’s 20thbirthday celebrations at the Trades Hall in Glasgow last month. It really brings home the extent of our influence, when representatives of credit unions as far afield as Ireland and the United States praise the impact of the NHS CU. Special thanks also go to Dave Prentis from UNISON, and our charity partners Bobath & Penumbra, for attending and sharing such a special occasion with us.


As part of the marketing team here at the NHS Credit Union, I can certainly say it’s an exciting time for us. Our plans to develop a new mobile app, to make our services more accessible and convenient, will enable more of our members to enjoy an even more streamlined customer experience. Our commitment to enhancing our digital offering promises to reach more people who can benefit from our services, particularly younger generations. Innovations such as these are what reassures me that I’ve joined an organisation with a very forward-facing approach, as we continue to improve and expand our offering to the people who matter most – our members.


Here’s to a successful (if very busy!) Christmas period, and I already can’t wait to get started on what will be an exciting 2019.


Mark Russell,


Business Development Manager, NHS Credit Union

Time to bust some myths about the NHS Credit Union



At the start of this month, there were 17,174 adult members of the NHS Credit Union – and 100 more members under the age of 18.


That sounds quite impressive until you consider that in Scotland alone, there are more than 162,000 health service employees who could join the credit union. That means there are around 145,000 eligible staff who are NOT members of the credit union.


Why is that?


Undoubtedly, some of those staff will have decided that the credit union is not for them … and that’s absolutely fine. But many of those staff will have been put off by the misconceptions that still hamper all credit unions.


So let’s play a simple game of fact or fiction.

Your money isn’t safe in the credit union … fiction.


Your money is protected in exactly the same way as any High Street bank – up to £85,000 per person.

 The technology credit unions use is outdated. … fiction.


While credit unions don’t have the budget of banks, their technology is improving all the time. Online banking is readily available for members of the NHS Credit Union – and a mobile banking app is well on the way.

 It’s hard to get your money from a credit union account … fiction.


You can easily withdraw money from your NHSCU savings account by BACs transfer either online or by phone. Contact us before noon on any working day and the money will be with you that same day.

Opening an account is a difficult and lengthy process…fiction.


It has never been easier to open an account with the NHS Credit Union. Our smartphone messaging system means that you can complete the entire joining process in around 20 minutes … without the need to fill in any lengthy forms.

Credit Unions are owned by their members, run by the members – for the benefit of members … TRUE.


Unlike High Street Banks, all profits made by credit unions are either re-invested in the business or distributed to members by way of an annual dividend. No money goes to external shareholders.


So there you have it – credit unions are safe, ethical, member friendly and getting more tech-savvy with every passing day.


If you’re one of the millions of people throughout the world who are already members of a credit union, well done – the chances are that you won’t be so quick to fall foul of sky-high payday lending rates. You can also rest assured that your account isn’t helping feather the nest of the type of person who plunged the world into recession through greed and irresponsible lending.


If you’re not a member of a credit union, isn’t it time to open your eyes to what they have to offer?


The NHS Credit Union is ready and willing to welcome thousands more members into our financial family. We look forward to helping you – the staff who care for millions of people throughout the UK – improve your own financial wellbeing.


Maureen Paterson,


Interim Chief Executive Officer & Head of Finance, NHS Credit Union