On Monday 20th January at 11am, Kent’s first community bank to be held in a church, will open at All Saints Church, Murston in Sittingbourne. The Murston Community Bank, is part of the local credit union Kent Savers, and will provide savings accounts, and loans at reasonable rates. On the day, the Bishop of Dover, the Rt Rev Trevor Willmott, will be the first to open an account, along with two mothers, Clare and Michelle, who are members of the congregation.
The community bank will open each weekday morning between 10am and 12noon. As well as banking services, visitors will also be able to enjoy refreshments in the cafe, free wifi, access to a Citizens’ Advice Bureau representative once a week, general banking and debt advice, and pastoral and spiritual support.
Volunteers from the church have received special training from Kent Savers to help run the community bank, and will assist customers to open accounts, withdraw small cash amounts using a passbook, and apply for loans. All banking business will take place within the vestry behind a moveable counter which has been specially designed and donated by local firm BW May and Sons Builders.
The initiative follows the launch of the Diocese of Canterbury’s partnership with Kent Savers last October; a move inspired by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s call for the Church to be more proactive against debt and payday lenders. Like all credit unions Kent Savers is owned and controlled by its own members, and run on a not-for-profit basis. With interest rates capped at 26.8% APR, they can be considered a safer and cheaper alternative to other money lending sources.
Speaking about why Murston Church decided to set up the community bank, Assistant Curate Reverend Lesley Jones said: “People in the community have told me they are struggling with money, debt, isolation and that they need help.
“This is our response as a church, we want to help in practical ways where we can, and by opening Murston Community Bank as a local branch of Kent Savers we can do that.”
Reverend Canon Caroline Pinchbeck, Director of the Diocese of Canterbury’s Communities and Partnerships Framework commented on how the whole community had been inspired to establish the community bank as quickly as possible:
“This community bank is evidence of the huge enthusiasm, and need there is for this initiative within the community. It’s testament to the excellent partnerships which have been forged, and the generous amounts of good will which have enabled building work, printing and the provision of other resources to take place.
“As a Diocese, we hope that Murston Community Bank will become a model to replicate, and that it will resource other churches across the county.”
Chris Hunt, General Manager of Kent Savers said: “We’re extremely excited about the opening of Murston Community Bank. It is a first for Kent Savers as until now we’ve not had an access point anywhere in the county where members can carry out business on their accounts with someone face-to-face. We’re therefore delighted that All Saints Church is providing this much needed and valuable service to the community.”
Further developments will see the community bank influencing the maths curriculum of Year 5 children at Murston Junior School from this Easter. It is planned that they will open and operate their own branch under the umbrella of Murston Community Bank this coming September.Ends
Further information from: Jennifer Ross, Communities and Partnerships Framework, Diocese of Canterbury: 01227 459401 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes for editors
- There will be photo and interview opportunities available during the launch and if you wish to attend please contact Jennifer Ross on the details above.
- All Saints Church can be found on: Church Road, Murston, Kent, ME10 3RU.
Tel: 01795 484297
- Murston Community Bank has been established through the help and generosity of a number of people, organisations and businesses. These include:
– Diocesan Communities and Partnerships Framework
– Kent Savers
– Swale Borough Council
– Swale Citizens’ Advice Bureau (CAB)
– B W May and Sons Builders
– Bridges Community Bank
– Kent Fire and Rescue Service
– Cllr Nick Williams
– Amicus Horizon Housing
– Willow Tree Project
– Murston Junior School
– Murston Infant School
- For more information about those involved, including case studies, please see the attached press pack.
- Kent Savers Credit Union was set up in 2010 to provide affordable financial services to the people of Kent. To open an account individuals must live, work, volunteer, or go to school/university in Kent, Medway or Bexley. Individuals who work for or are tenants of the major housing associations in these areas can join from anywhere in the country. Organisations can qualify if they have a place of business in Kent, Medway or Bexley. For more information visit: http://www.kentsavers.co.uk/index.asp
- The Diocese of Canterbury’s Communities and Partnerships Framework aims to empower parishes and deaneries to serve their communities by working in partnerships with others. The Framework has particular responsibility for rural and heritage issues, special interest groups, forging links with local authorities, other faith groups and with charities. For more information visit: https://www.canterburydiocese.org/candpframework