Would people join? When the idea of a Church Credit Union was first mooted (some eight years ago), the feedback was positive, but would that general level of interest translate into real live members? The answer to that one is ”˜yes it has’. It was with great excitement we watched our first applications come through. We operate an online system that sends us an email every time someone joins and it was marvellous to open the mailbox and see twenty new applicants just on the first day and it is rare a day goes by without at least one new member. And yes, we do have a lot of members who are ordained ministers but we also have PCC members, and Elders, and Office staff and a membership that is as diverse as our churches.
The second question was ”˜will people save?’ On the 11th February 2015 the credit union had an empty balance sheet but since then 200 people have become Founder Members of the credit union, investing an amazing Â£910,000 to add to the Â£386,000 in deferred shares invested by our denominational partners big and small. We also gained 350 regular savers depositing an average of Â£40 a month into their accounts.
The next step was would people borrow? Not guaranteed in our perceived debt adverse client base. Again since May, credit union loans have purchased 83 cars, two caravans and a motorbike, we have improved seven homes and furnished two others and helped to pay for one wedding. We’ve also walked alongside 11 households in helping to turn unmanageable debt into affordable credit.