Credit union’s first birthday

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Volunteers at Ribble Valley Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) are delighted to celebrate a successful first year for the Credit Union.

“For those who don’t know about credit unions, this is Ribble Valley’s very own savings and loans club, run by local people for local people,” said Glen Purchase, who staffs the weekly pay point alongside another volunteer, Christine Willman.

“People have joined because they want to support a community bank, they like the idea of putting their savings where other local people can get low cost loans. One lady said she was fed up with the excesses of high street banks and felt good about being a member of a healthy alternative!

“Other people have joined in order to get loans of course, and we want people to do this rather than use ‘pay day lenders’. The point of the credit union is to assist people to borrow responsibly and stay in control of their finances.”

The Credit Union desk is open every Friday afternoon from 2 to 3 p.m. at Ribble Valley CAB Wesleyan Row, Parson Lane, Clitheroe, BB7 2JY. It is part of First Choice Credit Union, which has been successfully operating for about 20 years from its office in Haslingden. Savings are secure as £85,000 per claim can be met by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and the banking is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

Some facts about First Choice Credit Union include:

l People can save up to a maximum of £15, 000

l A 1% dividend is payable on savings

l There are no credit checks

l a debit card is available for using the Credit Union account

l New members can borrow up to £250 after saving at least £7 per week for 4 weeks

l The death benefit trust membership may give your beneficiary savings plus 50%

CAB Manager Katy Marshall is also pleased with the development. She asid: “Our debt advisers are busy here and it used to be frustrating to see people winning over problems and then falling back into debt.

“Almost everyone on benefit ends up in debt because there is no financial flexibility on a very low income. One contingency, like an unexpected fuel bill or a breakdown can push people’s finances into the red.

“The credit union can be a fantastic safety net. The savings club is open to all – I love the fact it offers a brand new start even if people do not have a good credit score. Once you have saved for 13 weeks, you can borrow twice as much as you have saved up for about 40 times less charge than the usual lenders. In this way people can start to build their own good credit record again and certainly their own sense of being in control.”

People can get more information from firstchoice.co.uk, telephone 01706 215 082 or call in to Ribble Valley Citizens Advice Bureau on Parson Lane in Clitheroe, open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays except Wednesdays.