As you may have seen in the media over the past few months, Archbishop Justin Welby is encouraging church people to get involved with their local credit union.
Credit unions offer a realistic alternative to ‘pay day’ lenders for people on low incomes or with a poor credit history, who need ways to save small amounts and to borrow money.
Borrowing from a ‘pay day’ lender can be expensive as these companies lend at an APR of around 5000%, so a person who has borrowed a small amount of, say, £300 but is unable to repay it at the end of the month can quickly end up with the loan spiralling out of control.
Last year, the Church Times reported that a church in Nottingham was challenged to find 100 members who would invest £100 each in their local credit union, to boost funds. This total was exceeded, with some members investing much larger sums.
What is a credit union?
A credit union is a cooperative financial institution that is owned and controlled by its members and operated for the purpose of promoting thrift, providing credit at competitive rates, and providing other financial services to its members. Typically, about 10% of members volunteer with the credit union in various capacities.
Local credit union
Our local credit union is Solent Credit Union, which covers everyone living/working in the SO postal district. I contacted Solent Credit Union last month to ask if they would welcome new investors and to ask if there were other ways that church members could help. The response was a very definite “Yes, please!” as SCU will receive extra financing from another source for every new member who joins during this year. Money invested is totally safe.
Solent Credit Union is a part of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, which covers 100% of members’ savings up to £85,000. It is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority, fully insured and both internally and externally audited. There is no danger to members’ savings. Members can make a one-off investment, or save regularly and, of course, borrow when necessary. SCU also offers two ways to help people budget their money more effectively.
How do I join?
Further information about Solent Credit Union is available at Solent Credit Union website. If you prefer to speak to someone face to face, SCU operates from Eastleigh Town Council Office in Wells Place between 10.00 and 12.00 on Saturday mornings. I downloaded the forms from the website, gathered together the necessary ID and joined at this office, with the help of one of their friendly volunteers. It will soon be possible to apply to join (and manage your account) online.
Solent Credit Union needs volunteers for a number of roles. See the current needs under ‘Volunteering’ on their website. More people are needed to undergo training to man the Eastleigh desk on a rota basis.