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The building society difference during a pandemic

One of the few good things that has emerged from the Coronavirus pandemic is the nation’s unwavering community spirit: Colonel Tom Moore raising more than £30 million, communities rallying round and clapping in a show of support for the hardworking NHS workers and carers each week. These little glimmers of positivity are what shine through  in these trying times.

We also see hard working building society and credit union branch staff, head office and call centre employees who, as key workers, are helping to keep the nation going by arranging payment holidays, providing cash and generally keeping people connected to their finances.

As mutuals, our sector has always naturally played a big part in local communities, and now is no different. But how are they responding during this time of crisis?  Here are a few examples.

Helping the most vulnerable

Bath Building Society launched a cash delivery service, informally referred to as its ‘BBSaroo’ service, so that its most vulnerable customers could maintain access to their cash for essentials, even on weekends!

Elsewhere the Scottish Building Society set up a dementia helpline to provide support to some of its most vulnerable customers and their carers.

The personal touch

The West Brom shared a touching example of going the extra mile for individual members; an elderly member went into one of the branches, distressed after being told to isolate for 12 weeks with no nearby family or neighbours to help. One of the branch staff took her to one side to help calm her down. She then went out and bought the remaining items on the member’s shopping list and delivered them to her door. They’ve since been in regular contact.

Sizeable donations

Maintaining relationships is so important right now, but so is raising crucial funds for both the NHS and local charities to get people through this torrid time. Newbury Building Society brought forward its annual charity donation to inject £30,000 of much-needed funds into their local nominated charities.

Leek United have set a fundraising target of £60,000 for local charities including hospices, matching donations up to a total of £30,000. They want to get people involved by hosting an online quiz and have currently raised almost £10,000.

It looks as though £60,000 could be the real magic number, as Principality Building Society donated a huge £60,000 to its charity partners, the Alzheimer’s Society Cymru and the Teenage Cancer Trust Cymru.

Personal feats

Alongside these mammoth company-wide donations, it is also important to recognise the individual efforts that are contributing to these figures. Newcastle Building Society is championing its employees, individual heroes who are playing their part in our country’s time of need.

An IT worker at Coventry Building Society has raised around £700 for the Society’s Just Giving page by completing the Three Peaks Challenge… via his staircase! The collective fundraising page has a £5,000 target which the Society will match.

Protect our NHS

Dudley Building Society has so far donated 1000 wash bags to its local NHS hospital, containing shower gel, shampoo, conditioner and soap.  This is so the doctors and nurses can have regular showers in between seeing patients in a bid to tackle the spread of potential infection – as well as feeling better themselves.

Keep on communicating

With everybody stuck indoors, and only being asked to visit their local branch if absolutely necessary, The Hanley’s CEO Mark Selby issued a message to members in a local newspaper and via social media in a bid to keep the lines of communication open.

In a similar vein, Saffron Building Society launched ‘virtual savings reviews’, to give its members the opportunity to speak to a ‘real person’ whilst discussing how to make their savings stretch further.

These are just some of the many examples from around the sector that demonstrate the strong sense of community that our sector thrives in. Here’s to slowly getting back to that new normal.

Posted by Amy McCluskey on 30 April 2020