London Community Credit Union 1
Colin Eddy is the General Manager for the London Community Credit Union and Mahbub Choudhury is the Branch Manager for Mare Street, currently the only branch of the LCCU in Hackney. But maybe not for much longer? Today, on International Credit Union Day, the Hackney Preacher meets Colin and Mahbub to launch a new initiative in Upper Clapton.
* * * From 30 October St Thomas’ Church will be hosting the LCCU * * * * * * on Wednesday afternoons, between 1pm and 6pm * * *
Here they tell us a little about the work of the London Community Credit Union
Mahbub: “We opened this office in Mare Street in 2010. Every Credit Union operates with a community bond – it’s a kind of charter – and we needed to get special permission from the FSA to extend our bond from Tower Hamlets into Hackney.
Since then we have seen amazing growth in the Mare Street offices. Last week we had about 70 plus people opening new accounts. We’ve just reached having 2000 members.
What do we offer? In addition to the regular Current Account, we offer Savings Accounts and Jam Jar Accounts and Christmas Accounts (otherwise know as Eid Accounts) and Holiday Accounts. Each is slightly different but they all help our customers to save and to budget. We can also help people improve their credit history – we know how to do this with money advisers and debt advisers.
The great thing with credit unions is that the money stays within the community – we put the money together with the people who need it in the local community.
What gives me most pleasure? In 2008 I helped a young woman take out a loan for Christmas. It was for £500 and she assigned her child benefit to pay for it – £15 a week for the loan and £3.30 into a savings account. But she forgot all about her savings account and then when she came in a year later she found she had saved over £300. She was in tears. “I’ve never saved that amount of money in my life” she said. You know it’s amazing what a couple of zeros does to your confidence as a saver. And now she is one of our best savers. She’s discovered the power of saving!
When Universal Credit kicks in you’ll get people with £1800 or £1900 in one go – what are they going to do with it? We want to help people stay on top of their bills and not spend their money as quickly as a fire burning through a building. When you have cash in your pocket, when you go to the Post Office to cash your giro, you are likely to spend it. We want to help people before they get into trouble.”
Colin: “One myth is that a lot of people think the Credit Union is the poor person’s bank. And it’s true we want to support vulnerable people. But we also need people with money to support us. And we want to do more to help the better off get involved.
For a credit union to be sustainable we need to give loans. We have £2million sitting in back accounts earning too little interest. We need to find reliable customers who want to spend money on larger items like cars, flat improvements, weddings, a new bicycle, a lovely trip to Trinidad and Tobago. Even debt consolidation. People don’t realize it can be cheaper to roll your debt up into one and bring it to the credit union. We will also help you save your way out.
We are excited about joining with the Church to pioneer a new relationship.”
So are we. More to follow.