An exciting new initiative is being planned in Canterbury. Many people living in Canterbury unable to manage their costs of living and escalating debts are resorting to exploitative payday and doorstep lenders, and are suffering with the associated anxiety and stress that goes with trying and failing to make ends meet month after month.
Connecting Canterbury is a way for people within the church to become part of a community support network, to be the front line cup of tea and sympathetic ear, and a friendly source of useful and relevant local information. A Connecting Canterbury volunteer will listen to people’s problems and suggest and signpost help and support from local agencies ranging from debt advice, fuel poverty and energy savings, to alcohol and drug dependency and domestic violence.
As well as working with organisations such as Citizen’s Advice Bureau, Canterbury Food Bank and the Job Centre, the Connecting Canterbury network will also be hosting three new branches of Kent Savers Credit Union, providing access to membership of the nationwide credit union movement of non-profit ethical financial services. Kent Savers offers a range of savings schemes and personal loans to anyone living or working in Kent, including those who are financially excluded from mainstream lenders – who maybe have a troubled credit history, ora patchwork of income from benefits and tax credits.
Three Canterbury church venues will host the community information hub and credit union facilities on a shared rota covering 2 ½ hours a day Monday to Friday and 6 hours on Saturday.
If you are willing:
- to listen and chat to people in a café style environment in a local church
- to make a regular commitment to attend one or more session on a weekly or even fortnightly basis
- to receive some training (only about 4 hours in total) on how to process credit union membership transactions
- to undergo DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service)background checks to allow you to volunteer with vulnerable people
- to use your computer skills, or even better any previous financial services knowledge or experience, to assist with the credit union duties
then you would be an ideal volunteer for the Connection Canterbury enterprise (no prior financial knowledge is necessary).
It is currently proposed that the community hubs and credit union branches will be open at the following times at the three branches of the Connecting Canterbury network:
- All Saints Church (Military Road) each Tuesday and Thursday 9.30am to 12.00
- Canterbury Baptist Church (St Georges Place) each Monday and Friday 9.30am to 12.00
- St Peters Church (High Street) each Wednesday 9.30am to 12.00 and Saturday 10.00am to 4pm
The church community hubs will be opening in January 2016 and preparations are well underway to prepare the premises, including internet connections and CCTV cameras. The next important step is to recruit the teams of volunteers for each church location, who will become the trained ambassadors for the scheme.
If you, or somebody you know, would like to support Connecting Canterbury and Kent Savers Credit Union as a regular volunteer, please contact one of the following directly:
- Rev Phil Greig of All Saints Church: firstname.lastname@example.org tel:01227 450669
- Richard King of Canterbury Baptist Church: email@example.com tel:01227 456204
- Rev Mark Ball of St Peters Church: firstname.lastname@example.org tel: 01227472557
There will be training sessions scheduled in late November and you are encouraged to register your details as soon as possible and by Monday 9th November at the latest.