Author Archives: Charity-News

Global credit union movement surpasses 260 million

The World Council of Credit Unions has released its latest report, which shows the continued growth of credit union membership around the world, surpassing 260 million members in 117 countries. This is an increase from its 2016 report, which showed membership of 235 million members in 109 countries.

WOCCU logoThe most notable changes from the end of 2013 to 2017 are 12 million new members in the US, 11 million each in Latin America and Africa, 7 million in Asia and one million in Europe.

“This year we can celebrate as a global community. We have realized our vision of reaching 250 million members by the year 2020,” said Brian Branch, World Council president and CEO. “We see that membership growth continues to reflect the important role that credit unions have in providing economic empowerment to people worldwide.

“The three primary challenges we hear from credit unions everywhere are advocacy, disruptive technology and membership growth. For 2019, we will launch the logical next step and take on the second global challenge, which is disruptive technology. We are gearing our efforts toward digitization, including access to core services by online and mobile channels, automation of internal processes and connection to local payments and electronic ecosystems. If we want to continue growing and competing in tomorrow’s disruptive markets, we take on this challenge, make it our own and market the advantage to serve the under-served.”

The World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development platform for credit unions. It promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial co-operatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services.

World Council reports data based on country responses to its annual survey and does not make estimates for non-reporting countries. The Statistical Report provides the most comprehensive data on the global credit union movement available and is cited widely by governments, international institutions and analysts as an expert resource.

World Council has implemented 300+ technical assistance programs in 89 countries. Worldwide, 89,026 credit unions in 117 countries serve 260 million people. Learn more about World Council’s impact around the world at www.woccu.org.

Action on Hearing Loss launches online resource for employers

National charity Action on Hearing Loss is launching a comprehensive new online guide for HR professionals and employers on how to best support both prospective and current staff with hearing loss and deafness.

Action on Hearing Loss logoThe Employer Guide has been developed in response to research conducted by the charity which found that more than half of people with deafness had been mocked or teased about their condition in their workplace, and that more than a third had felt bullied by their colleagues.

The guide will offer support on how to make workplaces more accessible for people with deafness and hearing loss – from simple deaf awareness tips for staff and management to providing more detailed information on how to take advantage of the Government’s Access to Work scheme to cover the cost of additional communication support.

Action on Hearing Loss (formerly RNID) is the national charity helping people confronting deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss to live the life they choose. Action on Hearing Loss enables people to take control of their lives and remove the barriers in their way, giving people support and care, developing technology and treatments, and campaigning for equality

As part of the launch the charity invites everyone to take an online quiz to find out how much they know about hearing loss in the workplace, which can be found here: www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/workingforchangequiz.

The new guide forms the latest part of Action on Hearing Loss’ Working for Change campaign, which is seeking to break down the barriers faced by people with deafness and hearing loss when accessing and progressing in employment.

Dr. Roger Wicks, Director of Policy and Campaigns at Action on Hearing Loss, said: “Although there are around five million people of working age in the UK with some form of deafness and hearing loss, the results of our survey indicate there is a profound lack of awareness and understanding of its impact.

“It doesn’t have to be like this, however. There are a number of ways HR professionals and employers can educate themselves and their staff. Deafness and hearing loss do not limit anyone’s capacity for excellence, and we want employers to make the most of this huge pool of talent by enabling existing and prospective staff with deafness and hearing loss to thrive in the workplace.

“This guide is not only a resource that can educate employers and staff about hearing loss and deafness, it also sets out best practice and explains what support there is, such as the Government’s Access to Work scheme, to create an inclusive environment. We believe that the more educated and aware people are about deafness and hearing loss, such negative attitudes will become a thing of the past.”

To read Action on Hearing Loss’ Employer Guide and for other available resources, click here.

Charity calls on government to commit 1% of annual cost of dementia to research

Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity, is calling on government to adopt a bold new action plan to bring about a life-changing dementia treatment and improve the lives of people with the condition. The charity is urging government to commit to spending just 1% of the annual cost of dementia on research into the condition by 2025 to transform research efforts.

Alzheimer's Research UK logoThe call comes as the charity launches its new Make Breakthroughs Possible campaign and pledges to commit a further £250m to dementia research by 2025. Dementia is the leading cause of death across the UK and the number of people living with the condition is expected to grow to 1 million in just three years. Alzheimer’s Research UK believes there is no time to lose if progress is to be made for the millions of people with dementia and their loved ones across the UK.

The plan detailed in the charity’s new report, “No time to lose: An action plan for dementia,” sets out five clear actions designed to bring about a new dementia treatment and improve lives. The call for increased investment in dementia research aligns the condition with investment in other major disease areas.

Dementia currently costs the UK economy £26bn each year, much more than other major health conditions, like cancer which costs £18.7bn. In contrast, only £83.1m, or 0.3%, of the annual cost of dementia is put towards researching the condition compared to 1.4% put towards cancer research.

Increasing funding for dementia research to just 1% of the cost of the condition would accelerate breakthroughs similar to those made in conditions like cancer in recent decades, which have already transformed thousands of lives.

Hilary Evans, Chief Executive for Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Dementia is the health crisis of our time. With no way to stop or slow the diseases that cause it, no-one has yet survived dementia but we hope to change that.

“We’ve seen progress in recent years thanks to the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia launched in 2012, but without renewed government priority given to dementia, this momentum risks being lost. Dementia has been conspicuously absent from priorities set for the health system in recent months, and we cannot afford to let the condition slip off the radar at this critical time.

“We must see government ensure dementia is a leading health priority and begin to push for the progress seen in the treatment of diseases like cancer and HIV/AIDS over recent decades. Spending just 1% of the cost of dementia on research would make breakthroughs possible, and the thousands of families across the UK who are feeling the impact of dementia deserve nothing less.”

The action plan laid out by Alzheimer’s Research UK aligns its goals with the G8 ambition to bring about a life-changing treatment for dementia by 2025, which the UK government helped to set in 2013.

The plan includes five key actions for government:

  1. Commit 1% of the annual cost of dementia to research
  2. Double the number of scientists and volunteers taking part in dementia research
  3. Work to detect the diseases that cause dementia before symptoms appear
  4. Increase awareness of how people can reduce their risk
  5. Prepare now for future treatments so they reach people quickly.

The report can be read in full at: alzheimersresearchuk.org/actionplan.

Charity Pioneers campaign recognises good deeds

Accounting software company Sage is celebrating the good deeds of the most inspirational charity workers in the UK and US. The recently announced Charity Pioneers campaign recognises hard-working people that have dedicated their lives to a cause or charity. 

Charity Pioneers Campaign Photo

Sage is on the lookout for the most groundbreaking and life-changing charitable faces working in the UK and US today. Whether they’re promoting causes like entrepreneurship, diversity or education, these individuals actively strive to make the world a better place for young people, women, and military veterans. The charity pioneers Sage has chosen so far come from a range of backgrounds and demographics and yet they all share one thing in common – they’re changing lives for the better and that deserves to be celebrated.

Nominate a Charity Pioneer

Know someone that deserves recognition? Sage is still hunting for the very best. To submit a nomination, enter the name of the chosen nominee, the type of charity they work for, and the reason they should be recognised. Note that nominees must work with young people, women, or military veterans.

Sage Group logo

Not only could nominees feature alongside other Charity Pioneers, but their charity could also win the GBP equivalent of $5,000 of Enterprise Fund funding (Sage Foundation). The competition closes on 21st September 2018 and the campaign page can be found here: https://www.sage.com/en-gb/c/v/charity-pioneers/.

Sage offers a range of products to help charities and nonprofits, such as its accounting software which has been specifically designed to handle charities’ financial needs, including GiftAid and VAT.

Working families fall short of minimum living standard

The overall cost of a child over 18 years (including rent and childcare) is £150,753 for a couple and £183,335 for a lone parent. But work doesn’t pay low-income families enough to meet a no-frills standard of living, new research from Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) shows.

Cost of a Child ReportA combination of rising prices, benefits and tax credits freezes, the introduction of the benefit cap and two-child limit, the bedroom tax, cuts to housing benefits and the rolling out of Universal Credit have hit family budgets hard.

Life has been getting progressively tougher for families on low or modest incomes over the past ten years, with families on in-work and out-of-work benefits hardest hit, the report warns.

Despite the introduction of the ‘national living wage’, low-paid families working full-time are still unable to earn enough to meet their families’ needs. The gains from modest increases in wages have been clawed back through the freezing of tax credits.

Even families with two parents currently working full time on the ‘national living wage’ are 11% (£49 per week) short of the income the public defines as an acceptable, no-frills living standard.

The cumulative effect of cuts, frozen benefits and new punitive measures hit lone parents particularly hard. For lone parents, even a reasonably paid job (on median earnings) will leave them 15% (£56 per week) short of an adequate income because of the high cost of childcare. A lone parent working full-time on the ‘national living wage’ will be 20% (£74 per week) short of what they need to achieve a minimum standard of living. However, a lone parent relying solely on benefits will go without 40% of the budget they need for a socially acceptable minimum.

With the introduction of the two-child limit, families with three or more children fare worst – a third child born after 1 April 2017, for whom no additional support will be provided, costs around £86,500 or £4,800 a year excluding childcare.

Larger families on out-of-work benefits who avoid being hit by the two-child limit will instead be hit by the benefit cap which restricts support to £23,000 in London and £20,000 outside London regardless of family size. The impact of the benefit cap means that an out-of-work family with three children living in a privately rented home will receive just a little over a third of what they need to meet their needs, with a shortfall of around £400 per week.

The costs of a child are calculated according to a minimum standard of income that covers the costs of essentials such as food, clothes and shelter as well as other costs necessary to participate in society. It looks at the needs of different family types and is informed by what ordinary members of the public feel is necessary for both couples and lone parents bringing up children.

Chief Executive of Child Poverty Action Group Alison Garnham said: “Today, the majority of children growing up in poverty have working parents. While the number of parents in work is increasing, income from work alone is not sufficient to enable some to meet their families’ needs or escape poverty and the cost of a child is substantial. There is strong public support for government topping-up the wages of low-paid parents and investing in children is the best long-term investment we can make. By using the forthcoming budget to unfreeze benefits and restore work allowances, the government can take steps towards making work really pay.”

Click here to read the report.

Ethical public relations versus fake news

In a blog for the Charity PR website, Ethos public relations looks at ethical PR versus the growth of fake news.

Ethos PR 20th anniversary logo

For over 20 years, Ethos public relations has described itself as an ethical PR agency. We might not have known it back then, but what we were really saying was that we were against ‘fake news’.

In recent years, a number of things have contributed to the term ‘fake news’ being bandied about, almost every time someone disagrees with some information or an editorial stance. This is not at all useful and is only going to increase mistrust of information and expert opinion.

In the PR context, what we meant by ethical PR was not engaging in spin but focusing on the real news behind a story. For many clients, especially in the charity and social enterprise sectors, this is particularly important as they have meaningful stories to tell supporters and funders and we believe this is best done with real, honest case studies and stories that demonstrate the real impact of their work.

Back in the 1980s it wasn’t fake news that made us develop our honest approach but rather spin and ‘kiss and tell’ stories.

Unfortunately, the transformation to fake news from this was almost inevitable, and was supported in part by some bad editorial decisions by the media along the way.

It’s easy to blame editors, but a free media does need to be protected, although probably almost everyone working in public relations can cite examples of where really interesting, pertinent and newsworthy press releases have gained no coverage, while less socially useful information gets on air or in print.

Journalists aren’t social workers, but they do need to take a responsibility to their community and reflect what is going on in a balanced and holistic way. We have always subscribed to – and done our best to adhere to – the NUJ principles in our dealings with the media.

In a pre-digital age, it was true that air time and newspaper space was limited, but that’s hardly the case now. Real, good quality and verifiable news should be able to find an outlet on trusted media sites to balance the seemingly endless rise of so called ‘news’ sites peddling opinion as fact.

Only 3% of public think all UK tourist attractions suitable for wheelchair users

A YouGov poll carried out to mark the 10th anniversary of Trailblazers – Muscular Dystrophy UK’s national network of 800 young disabled people – shows that despite many advances in disability rights, most people’s experiences show there is a long way to achieving full accessibility.

Trailblazers

The survey found that:

  • Only three per cent of UK adults think all tourist attractions provide easy access for wheelchair users
  • Only 11% of UK adults think all Premier League grounds provide easy access for wheelchair users
  • Only 6% of UK adults think all UK railway stations provide easy access for wheelchair users

The advance of disability rights has been reliant on campaigning by organisations such as Trailblazers – and remains a patchwork of successes and work yet to be done. For example, while more railway stations now provide step-free access, half of stations remain inaccessible and assistance often needs to be pre-booked. There remain issues with staffing support, onboard toilets and making vital services like ticket machines accessible across much of the country.

Lauren West, Trailblazers Manager at Muscular Dystrophy UK, said: “We are so proud of the hard-won results that our Trailblazers have achieved in the last decade, and it’s encouraging that members of the public recognise the difficulties disabled people face when it comes to accessibility. But the headline successes should not leave people under the impression that the UK is now fully accessible.

“Take Premier League stadium access. It’s only after years of work by disability groups like Trailblazers that we are finally seeing clubs providing enough space for wheelchair users. But even that achievement just covers topflight clubs on one measure, and we still hear from disabled fans who have to sit away from friends or families, or even with the opposing team.

“We know it can be complex – the good practice guide on accessible stadiums is 116 pages long. But working with groups like Trailblazers is essential if businesses and organisations want to make sure they are open to everyone. Today we celebrate our achievements but now we want to hear from the next generation of young disabled people to help us tackle the next decade of advancing our rights.”

Trailblazers is a national network of almost 800 young disabled people and their supporters, and is part of Muscular Dystrophy UK. The group campaigns for change, provides guidance, and is an expert in what life is like for young disabled people. Members are passionately committed to challenging the barriers in society that stop us from living full and independent lives. The group launched in 2008, with 50 people at a meeting in London. Since then, it has successfully campaigned on issues such as accessible public transport, airlines, gaming and hate speech. Muscular Dystrophy UK is the charity bringing individuals, families and professionals together to beat muscle-wasting conditions.

Since its launch in 2008, Trailblazers’ achievements include:

  • Lobbying Twitter to update its rules to protect disabled people from hate speech. The social media giant went on to introduce the measures called for by Trailblazers
  •  Launching a report on accessible gaming and trialling Microsoft’s new adaptive controller for XBox
  • Fighting for accessible public transport in two End of the Line reports – published in 2009 and 2016 – which resulted in the government announcing new measures in early 2018 to ensure wheelchair users can access buses.

Trailblazer Connor Colhoun, 21, from Glasgow, said: “I’ve been to theme parks, and although it’s not usually possible to go on the rides, they do cater for wheelchair users. Things are definitely improving for disabled tourists, and accessibility is much better now than it used to be; I think that must be because there is more awareness. I recently went on the Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour, and it was excellent – everything was so accessible.”

2,134 people were surveyed on 4th and 5th July 2018 in the Muscular Dystrophy UK-commissioned survey by YouGov.

ABCUL launches Work Not Worry social media campaign

ABCUL – the Association of British Credit Unions – has launched a social media campaign, Work Not Worry, to raise awareness of the benefits of partnerships with credit unions among employers and to encourage more employers to establish new relationships with their local credit union.

Evidence suggests that financial stress costs the UK economy £121bn (Neyber 2016) and 30% of employees are making uninformed financial decisions about saving and spending (CIPD, 2017). 26% of working age adults in the UK have no savings and 1 in 4 workers have lost sleep over money worries (CIPD, 2017).

Work Not Worry

Credit unions offer savings and affordable loans with payments deducted from pay and, for over 30 years, employers have used the services of credit unions in their workplace. This includes household brands and institutions such as Admiral Insurance, Royal Mail, British Airways and the NHS. Research funding by Citi Foundation states that 70% of employees who take advantage of credit union partnerships feel more financially capable and better supported and 83% of employer partnerships demonstrate Corporate Social Responsibility to staff by providing a material benefit at little or no cost to them.

A majority of employers say working with credit unions improves the financial capability of staff and thus helps create a more productive and better supported workforce.  This is backed by Money Advice Service research on employer best practices on financial challenges and their impact in the workplace, which states that 59% of employees with current financial worries say money concerns prevent them from performing their best at work.

A lack of savings is a major problem for many workers, but credit unions’ offer Save As You Borrow  – which asks people to save a small amount while repaying their loan – and this has great benefits in creating a savings habit.  Research by the Fairbanking Foundation found that while only 26% of credit union borrowers saved regularly before joining their credit union, 71% intend to save regularly after repaying their loan.

Matt Bland, Head of Policy & Communications at ABCUL, said: “In our conversations with employers, it is clear that many are not aware of the financial difficulties facing their staff.  Those that are have sadly seen it became a serious issue in the workplace before they had chance to respond. We regularly hear horror stories of people falling into a downward cycle of repeated and escalating payday loans.

“Credit unions have a proved track record of turning borrowers into savers. Research such as the Save As You Borrow report proves that credit unions are playing a vital role in helping their members become financially responsible. The report shows that credit unions turn 71% of borrowers into savers and that 96% of employees that are encouraged to use payroll deduction through the credit union have found it helpful.

“All employers have to do once a partnership is set up is spend a couple of minutes making the deductions each pay day – one file transfer, one payment. All employees have to do is agree to a deduction of their choice per month – and it comes directly from their salary, making life easy for everyone.”

The campaign runs for four weeks from 9 July – 3 August. For more information about the campaign and to search for a credit union partnership, visit http://worknotworry.org/

Credit union marks Armed Forces Day with Forces Finance commitment

London Mutual Credit Union launches a dedicated new financial support service for the armed forces on this year’s Armed Forces Day (Saturday 30th June).

Forces Finance PhotoSince first partnering with the Ministry of Defence in 2015, London Mutual Credit Union has provided £2 million worth of loans to over 1000 armed forces personnel, saving them an estimated £1.3 million compared to the cost of high street lenders and various payday lenders such as Wonga.

The new Forces Finance initiative will give serving members of the armed forces and their families access to a range of specially developed financial services which meet the unique requirements of armed forces personnel.

London Mutual Credit Union is a financial co-operative that exists for the benefit of its members who live and/or work in the London boroughs of Southwark, Lambeth, Westminster or Camden, and serving members of the British Armed Forces. Established in 1982, London Mutual Credit Union has over 28,000 member-owners.

Historically, service personnel have encountered difficulties accessing credit and other financial services, due in part to moving regularly and not being able to build up a good credit rating. Some have also been targeted by payday loan companies.

Lucky Chandrasekera, Chief Executive of London Mutual Credit Union, says: “Our figures show the clear demand for financial services built around the specific needs of armed forces personnel and their families. The disruptive and often highly mobile nature of life in the services can make financial planning difficult for many service personnel, as well as making it harder to build an address history or a strong credit record.”

Unlike banks, credit unions are owned by their borrowers and savers and serve a specific community. This enables them to offer advantageous rates, products and terms tailored to the specific circumstances of their members.

Lucky adds: “The launch of the Forces Finance service is designed to build on our experience of working with armed services personnel over the past three years and underscores our commitment to delivering a bank built around ‘serving those who serve’.”

In the months ahead, the credit union will work with its 1000 members who are in the armed forces to design new financial products and member benefits built around the needs and realities of forces life.

In addition, on this year’s Armed Forces Day the credit union will launch a dedicated website and large scale marketing campaign designed to reach serving members of the armed forces.

Montgomery Canal waterway fun in Welshpool

The Canal & River Trust charity is organising a weekend of fun waterway activities at Welshpool Wharf, as part of the Welshpool Transport Festival on 23 and 24 June.

Boathorse Cracker by Dave Barker at Bywater Cruises

Boathorse Cracker by Dave Barker at Bywater Cruises

Free canoeing and coracle taster sessions will be on offer on the Saturday (10.00am-5.00pm) and paddle boarding taster sessions on the Sunday (10.00am-2.00pm). Narrowboat trips, also free courtesy of the Heulwen Trust, will be available throughout the weekend.

These activities and other community events are being promoted by the Canal & River Trust, which manages 2,000 miles of the nation’s waterways, as part of the Heritage Lottery-funded project to restore the Montgomery Canal.

Also on both days will be a rare opportunity to enjoy a horse-drawn boat trip along the Montgomery Canal. For the first time in years, this unique mode of transport will take visitors along the Welsh stretch of the waterway. Trips are heavily subsidised and cost only £2 per person. Tickets are available on the day from the bottom of Smithfield Car Park (postcode SY21 7DD).

Sylvia Edwards, Montgomery Canal community development officer with the Trust, explained: “This special weekend offers visitors a marvellous chance to try out a range of exciting activities on water. Research proves people feel happier and healthier by water so it’s a great event for introducing visitors and local residents to opportunities for enjoying leisure time on the beautiful waterway.

Canoeing

“For people with a more competitive streak, we are hosting a coracle relay race at 2pm on the Saturday. This is free to enter. No previous experience is necessary as participants will have chance to practise in the morning up to midday.

“We hope lots of supporters will come down for the race to cheer on the competitors.”

Teams of four need to have registered their coracle race entry by 21 June by emailing Sylvia.Edwards@canalrivertrust.org.uk or calling 07787 508 635.

Music will keep everything swinging along throughout the weekend and a special charity concert, in aid of the Montgomery Canal restoration, will be held on Saturday night in the Assembly Room at Welshpool Town Hall. Advance tickets at the special price of £8.00 each are available through the Restore the Montgomery Canal website or £10 on the door.

Known for its outstanding natural beauty, wildlife and heritage, the Montgomery Canal runs for 35 miles between England and Wales and is currently only partly navigable. This weekend of community activities are part of a much larger HLF-funded £4 million project which involves the creation of a new three-hectare wildlife habitat within Aston Locks Nature Reserve and navigation restored to 1¼ miles of the canal, from Maesbury to Crickheath in Shropshire.

A dedicated turning point for narrowboats, known as a ‘winding hole’, is also being created, enabling boats to return to the area for the first time since 1936 when the canal was closed. The project includes access improvements to the canal and nearly five miles of towpath upgraded.  The Canal & River Trust works with 15 partner organisations which make up the Montgomery Canal Partnership. The Partnership aims to restore the canal fully within the next decade as a haven for people and nature.

For more information about visiting your local canal, the Montgomery Canal restoration or becoming a Friend of the Canal & River Trust, please go to www.canalrivertrust.org.uk.