How Building Societies are supporting their members through the pandemic
Unable to visit friends and family or see our colleagues, it’s our neighbours, communities and local businesses that keep us going during lockdown. While 84% of people support the use of targeted lockdown measures, many have been combatting the social challenges of 2020 by volunteering and offering support where they can.
Building societies have long offered their members help with their finances and a sympathetic ear, so they are uniquely placed during COVID-19. They offer an established local presence and a sense of belonging. As a financial hub, building societies are an essential services and have had to adjust to remain open to lockdown life. With new safety measures in each branch, they are able to do what they do best – support their local communities.
Nottingham Building Society
The Nottingham increased their planned charity donations as a direct response to Coronavirus. Traditionally their focus was on employability, financial education and literacy and tackling homelessness, but this now includes:
- Supporting those facing financial hardship with donations to Trussell Trust foodbanks
- Combatting isolation by supporting The Silver Line, a 24-hour free and confidential helpline for older people to call if they feel lonely
- Partnering with Nottingham City Council to deliver the StoryParks project to support education and young people
- Donating to homelessness charity partners Framework, who used the money to deliver emergency food and care packages people and buy personal protective equipment to keep staff and residents safe
The Nottingham’s Chief Executive David Marlow said: “The Nottingham has a long and proud history of doing the right thing and in times like these, this is more important than ever. As a mutual organisation we are committed to supporting our communities and, although we realise these are uncertain times, we know we will get through this together, looking after each other and supporting those that need it most.”
Saffron Building Society
Since the beginning of lockdown, the Saffron has:
- Launched a telephone service with our older and vulnerable members to combat loneliness
- Created their ‘Here for you Hub’ to provide additional resources; activities for children and teens, information and tools for parents, advice for older adults and links to phone numbers of organisations who could offer support
“At Saffron we were aware that the pandemic was going to have a detrimental effect on all our members. We immediately offered support including savings reviews and individually tailored advice to those facing financial hardship over the telephone.
However, that did not feel like enough when we considered our local, loyal member base that often relied on visiting the branch and were now home shielding. The older generation who would have little or no contact outside of their home, parents with children at home, those working from home and knock on mental health effects became a real concern for our team.” Kelly Bixby, Head of Service and Sales
Tipton Building Society
Throughout the peak of the crisis the Tipton Building Society has continued to provide members support with branches open on restricted hours providing access to essential transactions. Mortgage payment holidays have been made available for members experiencing financial difficulty. Here are just a few of the ways the Tipton is supporting their members:
- All branches returned to their normal opening hours, with new safety measures including restricted visitor numbers and social distancing
- New phoneline offers support for any members experiencing financial difficulty meeting their mortgage commitments
- Local clubs and charity sponsorship, including fundraising for the Midlands Air Ambulance
West Bromwich Building Society
Our primary focus was to ensure that we continued to deliver essential services, so our members were able to manage and have access to their finances, as well as prioritising the safety of both members and staff.
We implemented social distancing at our Head Office and across our branch network, and reduced our opening hours to limit the risk of exposure for all of our colleagues. During the pandemic, we have:
- Provided over 5,000 mortgage holidays to help those in financial difficulty
- Enabled penalty-free early access to savings on accounts that would normally be subject to withdrawal restrictions
- Facilitated transfers to nominated bank accounts or trusted third parties, so any members that were self-isolating could safely access their savings
As well as helping our customers and colleagues, the Society also continued to support the community with a variety of grants and charitable donations provided to local causes. Through our charitable arm the Mercian Trust, so far this year we have been able to support 36 local causes and provide much needed funds during the pandemic.
The West Brom are looking at ways they can help those that have been, and still might be, facing financial hardship as a result of the pandemic. They are agreeing repayment plans with all of their borrowers that took mortgage holidays and have set up a vulnerable customer team to support those who may be in financial difficulty.
Leek United Building Society
Leek United Building Society’s fundraising campaign has seen staff arranging more than 20 different events, including a virtual quiz, a charity auction and a 600 miles endurance challenge. The Society matched the public’s donations, which were then split equally between Home-Start Staffordshire Moorlands, Treetops Hospice Care, Derbyshire and East Cheshire Hospice.
Andrew Healy, Chief Executive of Leek United Building Society, said: “The past few months have been difficult for everyone, not least our local charities whose income has fallen as a result of events being cancelled and shops being closed. I’m really delighted with how our wonderful team of staff have rallied to support these three charities. They’ve been not only kind but also exceptionally creative in coming up with fun ways to generate badly-needed funds just when they’re needed most.”
Leek United has also:
- Created dedicated opening hours for elderly and vulnerable members
- Supported over 800 members with mortgage payment deferrals
- Set up telephone support to allow members to manage their finances from home
Mansfield Building Society
Throughout the pandemic, Mansfield Building Society has remained open, with the priority focused on ensuring members have access to their money. The Society has chosen to waive penalties and notice periods to help worried members manage their finances.
The Mansfield also supports the local community with a series of donations to:
- Mansfield Community Response Network Fund (helping vulnerable people who have become isolated through age, ill-health and other limiting factors)
- Sherwood Forest Foodbank, to purchase essential food and toiletries for those most in need.
- Ashfield and Mansfield Dementia Friendly Communities Partnership (AMDFCP) to providing inspiring activities for those living with dementia and their carers, while self-isolating.
- The Society also gifted toys, activity books and stickers to King’s Mill Hospital’s Children’s Ward, for youngsters receiving treatment during the crisis.
- The Mansfield continues to adapt to the changing landscape by developing ‘virtual’ appointments to ensure it is able to support new and existing members who continue to value face-to-face advice and a personal service. Throughout the pandemic the mutual has remained true to its founding principles, putting its members, its staff, and its community first.