Your Local Credit Union Needs You…

Carol DealeyCarol Dealey explains why there has been a focus on Credit Unions at St John’s in the past couple of weeks:

Most people are familiar with the Archbishop of Canterbury’s views on payday lenders as he has generated a considerable amount of attention.

To explore what the Church of England could do to help he established a Task Group on Responsible Credit and Savings in 2014. Known as To Your Credit the aim was to harness the national and grassroots resources of the Church of England to support the growth of credit unions, other community finance organisations, and local money advice services.  (Read more about this in the leaflet Money speaks louder than words)

A recent enquiry via the Weekly Roundup found only two people with experience of belonging to a credit union, and some awareness from only a few others.  So it seems reasonable to assume that most of the congregation knows little about them. Certainly I had little knowledge of credit unions until I heard information about them first at Diocesan Synod and then Deanery Synod.

What are Credit Unions?

Credit unions are membership organizations where members can save money (a little or a lot) and can also take out small loans. They pay out a dividend to members each year which can be anything from 0% to3%. To me it sounded a bit like the Co-Op shop group which my mother belonged to when I was a child and from whom she collected her ‘divvy’.

Credit unions make pay-day loans at 26.8% APR and loans of £1,000-£5,000 at 23.1% APR, compared with Wonga at 1,509%. If you put money in them others can borrow at these lower rates. Credit Unions also have the potential to provide better returns than many savings accounts in banks. My bank currently pays out at a rate of 0.25% for savings accounts, whereas one of the local credit unions returned a dividend of 1% to its members this year.

However, as with any financial institution the money saved in credit unions is protected by the same FSCS government protection as banks. Unlike banks they are not-for-profit organizations run for the benefit of their members. I went away from synod convinced that there must be some way that St John’s could support credit unions – I was just not sure how this might be done.

How can you get involved?

Antony suggested that I join a small working group from the Debt Strand at The Crossway to look at providing information for both the Debt Strand clients, and the congregation about credit unions. Debt Strand clients might like to join one to help manage their finances, and members of the congregation might consider it an ‘investment’ as transferring some capital into a credit union, or saving regularly can enable the credit union to provide loans for other members at reasonable rates.

Our small working group (Brian Norden, John Cheatle, Wendy Ingram and myself) set out to make contact with the local credit unions and find out how to join both online and in person. Our aim was to check them out before developing two fliers providing general information about credit unions and details of the local ones.Once the fliers were developed the aim would be to share them across the Deanery and Diocese so that other churches could make use of them.

Whilst this has taken longer than we initially hoped, the fliers have been developed and were launched at all three services at St John’s at the end of April.   Copies of the fliers can be found in the Welcome Area in the hall or at The Crossway.

They can also be downloaded here:  ‘All about Credit Unions’ and ‘Your Local Credit Union needs YOU’

For more information contact any of the members of the group: Carol Dealey, Brian Norden, John Cheatle, Wendy Ingram.

Credit unions in the area

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

27th Apr 2016 Posted in: News by Stella Jennings 0

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