After months of anticipation, Helston Community Banking Hub finally opened its doors to the public today (Wednesday).

Although currently in a temporary location at the old Barclays bank in Coinagehall Street, the hub itself is here to stay.

The opening hours of the Helston Community Banking Hub are now Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, giving customers of any bank the opportunity to withdraw and pay in cash (or cheques) – including businesses, which can also access change through the hub.

People can also check their balance and pay utility bills.

In addition, a community banking representative from five banks will be there one day a week each, to help customers with more specific banking needs, such as account queries, talking them through how to access services on a banking app and – depending on the bank – even supporting them in other areas such as setting up a new account remotely, although each bank will offer different services.

There is a separate, private room for this banking support. 

The schedule for community bankers will be:

Monday: HSBC

Tuesday: Santander

Wednesday: NatWest

Thursday: Lloyds

Friday: Barclays

However, the general banking hub facilities are open to anyone, regardless of their bank, all days of the week Monday to Friday.  

In charge of the new facility is Mike Grimmer. He is well known locally, having run St Keverne Post Office for nine years and is now at St Clare Post Office in Penzance, also running the mobile banking van that visits different locations in the area.

He can now add ‘banking hub operative’ to that list, with he and his team – including Caroline Willis, Jackie Walker and Ian Harvey, who was previously at Helston Post Office until last year – running the hub on behalf of the Post Office, which operates it for Cash Access UK. 

Mike said he has been delighted by the response from the public on the first day, with people popping in throughout Wednesday.

He hopes that will only increase as word gets out that the banking hub is now open, not only for people in Helston but also on the Lizard Peninsula and other surrounding areas.

“It’s been a really good initial reaction,” said Mike. “There’s been times we’ve all been speaking to someone.

“I’ve been told all week we’d be quiet for a few weeks; however, I don’t know if it’s just the initial reaction but we’ve ben really busy and hopefully that will continue.”

Falmouth Packet: Tracy Pearce from NatWest was the first community banking representative at the hubTracy Pearce from NatWest was the first community banking representative at the hub (Image: NQ staff)

Behind the hub is Cash Access UK, which is an independent company funded by nine UK banks.

It is then operated on a day-to-day basis by the Post Office – with Mike as their agent in Helston.

The opening comes just under a year after it was announced Helston was to get a Community Banking Hub, following the closure of its last bank, Lloyds, in January last year.

Once agreed, Cash Access UK are duty bound to open a hub within 12 months, which has led to the temporary location in the former Barclays building.

No location or date for its final home has been announced yet, but the banking hub will continue to run from its current location until a permanent site is in place.

“We’re so lucky to be so central in Helston,” added Mike. “People have noticed we’re here and have been having a look through the window.”

It is only the second Cash Access UK banking hub to open in Cornwall, after Looe, although more are planned for Saltash, Bodmin and other areas, and there are around 40 in total nationally.

Its opening has also been welcomed by the community bankers. Tracy Pearce was the first to be on site, for NatWest - having worked in the town for more than 20 years until its Helston branch closed in 2018 – and she was overjoyed to be back.

“I’m just so delighted to be back in Helston – I’ve seen lots of customers from before,” she said. “I just think it’s fantastic for Helston.”

Although Tracy will be in the banking hub all day every Wednesday, she said the NatWest mobile banking van would continue to visit next Helston Bowling Green every Wednesday morning as it has been.