Revitalised Credit Union wants to spread the word

Gloucestershire Credit Union has been given a new lease of life after help from the Diocese of Gloucester.

The union had been struggling but a £4,000 donation from the diocese earlier this year has turned its fortunes around.

As it celebrates International Credit Union Day next week (Thursday 16 October), those involved with the Gloucestershire group want to let more people know about the organisation.

Gloucestershire Credit Union is based at Gloucester Library but also has collection points in Cheltenham and the Forest of Dean. Its Board of Directors have a wide range of skills, including some with decades of experience in Credit Unions, others with a financial services background and yet more with knowledge of community projects.

Alongside the financial aid given to the credit union, the Diocese of Gloucester has also helped to find volunteers.

The Revd Tom Wilson, vicar of St James and Christ Church, Gloucester, is one of the union’s directors.

He said: “Anyone living in the county is eligible to become a member, and once they have been saving regularly for three months, they can take out a loan of double those savings.

“The interest rate is 26.8 per cent, but borrowers only pay it on the reducing balance of the loan. It means that, if someone borrows £200 over 12 months, they only actually pay £28.94 in interest, making the payments just £4.42 a week or £19.10 a month.

“If they manage to pay off the loan early, there are no penalties and they pay less interest.”

He said credit union staff were very experienced at helping people apply for membership and for loans, and the loans could be as small as people wanted – there was no minimum amount.

Chris, who has been involved with the union since it was formed by the merger of St Peter’s and Glevum Credit Unions in 2005, knows first-hand the problems of borrowing from alternative sources.

As single parent of four children, she needed a new tumble dryer, and borrowed £100 from a loan shark to get it as no one else would give her credit.

She ended up paying back double what she had borrowed – money she could ill afford.

So when she heard about savings and loans from credit unions in the USA, she started thinking about the possibility of a Credit Union in this country and did all she could to help make that dream a reality.

Pauline, who has been a member of a Credit Union for nearly twenty years, first took out a loan to do an Open University degree.

She was working as a nurse full time, so study had to be fitted into what little free time she had, and money was tight, and this was the only way she could pay for it all.

Find out more at www.gloscreditunion.org.uk or by phone on 01452 422712.

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