Credit Unions

As part of the Church of England’s on-going support for local credit unions, the diocese is encouraging parishes to consider how they can highlight the services of credit unions to their local community.

There are now three community banks and community hubs within the diocese with three more planned for early 2016. All rely on the generosity of volunteers to enable them to open throughout the week. Once trained, they also offer informed advice on the products available from the credit union and a listening ear with a cup of tea and a biscuit for those who need to share a burden.

Murston Community Bank and Hub – All Saints, Sittingbourne

Muston Community Bank and Hub opened its doors in 2014 as Kent’s first community bank to be held in a church. Since the launch of the credit union access point at All Saints Church, and the publicity that it has generated, the partner credit union, Kent Savers, has opened 800 new accounts  – 300 in the area around Murston – and doubled their savings account balances from £500k to over £1 million. Alongside the credit union access point the ‘community bank’ has become a hub for the local community with a cafe, local advice services and support. It is open Monday to Friday 10am to 12pm: https://www.facebook.com/MurstonCommunityBank. http://www.toyourcredit.org.uk/stories/all-saints-murston

Newington Savers and Community Bank and Hub – St. Christopher’s, Ramsgate

Newington Community Savers credit union opened in May in a recycled cargo container in the grounds of St. Christopher’s Church. It was the second Kent Savers access point in Kent and also directs people to other community services. Samantha Voak, is a volunteer and the Manager of Newington Savers. Her families’ own history with money inspired her to get involved: “My parent’s struggled with debt when I was growing up. I’m hoping that by being involved with the bank I’ll be able to teach the young generation of Newington how to save, so that when they leave school, they’ve got something to help them through those first few steps into adulthood.”

Tenterden Savers Community Bank and Hub – St. Mildred’s Church Hall, Tenterden

Tenterden Savers Community Hub was officially launched in June 2015. Support from local businesses and the diocese has meant that they have been able to refurbish part of the hall and set up a crisis fund to respond to those in immediate need. Partnerships are being formed with the local Citizens Advice Bureau, Job Centre and local authority. They are open 10am – 1pm Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

What is a credit union?

The diocese has partnered with Kent Savers credit union. A credit union is similar to a bank but unlike a high street bank it is run and owned by its members and serves the community rather than working purely for profit. Credit unions need a broad range of members in order to thrive. So, by taking an active part in a credit union you’re helping it to help people in financial need to borrow and save responsibility.

The diocese has partnered with Kent Savers credit union and works to help support and promote its services across our communities.

Why be involved?

The Archbishop of Canterbury has made a priority action against high interest lenders. #TOYOURCREDIT is the Archbishop of Canterbury’s initiative to create a fairer financial system focused on serving the whole community, where everyone has access to responsible credit and savings and other essential financial services. It has led to a number of initiatives including the Credit Champion Network and LifeSavers which aims to support primary schools and their communities in learning about money and its place in our lives- for children to learn to manage money well now and in the future.

Five ways

If you’re interested in supporting a credit union, here are five ways you, your church or community group can go about helping them become an effective competitor to high interest lenders:

  • Information: Place leaflets in your church about your local credit union so their services become more widely known.
  • Account: As a parish, open an account and support your local credit union.
  • ‘Join here’: Have a simple ‘Join Here’ access point with application forms people can take away and fill in.
  • Online: Allow people to join, and carry out business on their accounts via an internet point.

If you would like more information about supporting credit unions please get in touch. Contact the Communities and Partnerships Framework on 01227 459 401 or email: cpinchbeck@diocant.org You can also contact Keith Berry, Together Canterbury Development Worker with special responsibility for credit unions: kberry@diocant.org