Case Studies

Part of the problem when we talk about credit unions is that most of us don’t actually understand what they do. There is a great summary here from the horse’s mouth. http://www.abcul.org/credit-unions/key-features. But what most of us understand best are stories, so here are some examples of folks getting on and doing it!
As I’ve spoken to people I have been inspired by stories of communities learning to save together, small businesses getting off the ground, and budgeting becoming part of people’s normal lives. It’s amazing what happens when people start to take responsibility for where their money goes. We often hear stories of microfinance projects transforming communities in places like Bangladesh, but rarely hear stories from our own country! We'll be adding more as you share your stories with us.

1. TOOTHILL

Toothill Church in Swindon helped set up Clivey Credit Union in partnership between West Swindon Children’s Centre & Toothill Community Café. A group of volunteers was recruited by West Swindon Children’s Centre to run the collection point.
Anyone living or working in Swindon can join the Credit Union. There are two ‘community banks’ that provide a local, safe, and cheap way through the financial ups and downs of life with the opportunity to take out loans from a pool of money that belongs to everyone who puts their savings into it.

2. SALE 

Sale Credit Union was started by St Mary Magdalene church and the community to help people on the nearby estate and surrounding area manage their finances. Over 400 people are now members. Volunteers help to run the Credit Union and people come to bank and obtain loans. There are now 50 Junior members of the Credit Union as they also take the message into local schools. In conjunction with SWCC the Credit Union has also set up money management courses helping people to manage their funds and grow in confidence as they return to work.
The Credit Union has served the local community effectively and helped relieve many people’s financial worries. With over 400 adult members, the majority based on the estate, the Credit Union is a widely used and widely supported organisation. Original accounts as to how the Credit Union was formed are patchy but there seemed to be something of a coalition of the willing made up of the local Catholic Father, Steve’s predecessor Ross Garner and a hardy group of local residents who were passionate about being rid of loan sharks. From these humble beginnings the Credit Union rose up like an eagle, high above the clouds of people’s expectations. Well, no, actually, to be fair, the Credit Union grew slowly but steadily to its current numbers. 

"The Credit Union has always relied on volunteers to maintain itself. There are numerous volunteers who act as collectors on Monday mornings and Thursday evenings. There is an active board of directors who are involved with various aspects of the daily running of the Credit Union such as, chasing up delinquent loan repayments, credit committee, junior credit union, treasury and development. 

"Some members of the Credit Union use it to obtain reasonable and flexible loans; others primarily use it as a savings account. A common misunderstanding about Credit Unions is that all members have loans. This simply is not true. Some members are only interested in saving. 
Currently there are around 50 junior members of the Credit Union. A large number of these junior members come from CherryManorPrimary School where they take part in a savings club with certificates and gifts. 

"As well as offering savings services and loan services to adults and a branded saving scheme to junior members, the credit Union is also committed to providing opportunities to deliver money management courses. In conjunction with SWCC the Credit Union has established and led numerous money management courses. Most of these courses have been aimed at adults seeking to return to work and been administered with Sale West’s job club, the Phoenix Centre. This wider cooperation with the community goes further still. Two courses have been run for year 10 pupils at Ashton on Mersey school. From April the Credit Union and SWCC will be running a money management course at the FirsPrimary School for any parents with financial difficulties. 

"Not only does the Credit Union provide an annual dividend on savings and reasonable loan interest rates it also provides money education to those who need it." 

3. AMCU

The Anglican Mutual Credit Union (AMCU) is another exciting development. Rev Anthony MacRow-Wood (who was previously President of the Association of British credit unions) has been at the forefront of developing a credit union for clergy, their families and Anglican churches and charities. Visit www.amcu.info for more information and how you can get involved.
Here is an article from the Church Times explaining the plans by Ed Thornton:
PLANS are under way to establish a credit union — a “mutual” owned and controlled by its members — for members of the Anglican clergy.

The credit union, which would be called the Anglican Mutual Credit Union (AMCU), is the idea of the Revd Antony MacRow-Wood, Team Rector in the North Poole Team Ministry, in Dorset, who was president of the Associa­tion of British Credit Unions, and a former accountant.

There are 480 credit unions in the UK, all authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority, with more than 800,000 members; other professions that have them include the police and taxi-drivers.
 
Clerics would be able to place savings in the AMCU, which would be protected up to the value of £85,000 by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. It is en­visaged that the AMCU will offer tax-effective forms of saving, such as cash ISAs.
 
Mr MacRow-Wood said that the AMCU would give clerics access to low-cost credit for items such as household goods and cars, as well as other large costs, including higher education and holidays. It is expected that clerics would be able to apply for loans online.
 
The law says that loans from credit unions must be used “for provident and productive purposes”, which means that money could not be borrowed for activities such as gambling.
 
Mr MacRow-Wood said that he hoped that the AMCU would, in the longer term, provide mortgages for clerics’ retirement housing.Under the plans, savings put into the credit union, and the repayment of loans, would be deducted at source from a cleric’s pay.
 
Mr MacRow-Wood said that he had received a “positive response” about the plans from clerics: of 1000 who responded to a survey 18 months ago, just over 500 said that “they would join immediately.”
He has written to every Church of England diocese asking for a grant of £4-5000, and to the Church Com­missioners for a subordinated loan.
 
“I would encourage all clergy to discuss the idea at a chapter meeting and for their rural or area deans to feed back to dioceses the outcome of those discussions,” he said.


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