Since its humble beginnings in 2006, the Erewash Credit Union (ECU), which is based in Ilkeston, is continuing to expand as it provides a range of financial services for local residents.
‘Tiser reporter NADYA AHMED visited the head office of the community bank on South Street, as its newly appointed general manager, Sara Dinsdale welcomed shadow Cabinet minister Michael Dugher MP.
“I want to avoid the image that we’e a poor man’s bank,” said Sara.
“While we’re here for the community, we don’t just offer loans, we’re able to offer advice, savings accounts, and young people’s accounts which don’t run off a profit.”
The union, chaired by Mick Brown, currently employs ten volunteers alongside a small team of paid staff and is accountable to and controlled by members who have joined ECU by opening a bank account.
“We experience peaks and troughs in our demand, particularly at Christmas time and the school holidays,” she explained.
“Our most notable problems come from people struggling with payday loans, which is a big issue at the minute, aiming to provide loans at a reasonable cost for our community.”
Michael Dugher MP, who joined his local credit union two years ago, paid tribute to the staff at ECU.
He said: “The staff here are providing a fantastic service which has been very successful locally, something missing from high street banks. It is amazing to see the community spirit here in the face of the huge cuts that we are facing.”
Sara hopes that the credit union can expand further to areas where credit unions are currently absent and eventually be able to provide small loans to small start-up busnesses and shops. She also hopes to change the name of the Credit Union in the future so that people realise it isn’t a last resort for those in financial hardship.
“In this economic climate it is difficult to emerge from any financial difficulties, whether through the effects of the spare-room subsidy, debt, pay-day loans or unemployment, that’s where we do come in to help,” she added. “However, essentially we are a bank for the community — approachable and safe.
“All our members are able to volunteer and attend our AGMs to vote.”
Concluding his visit, MP Michael Dugher added: “People who don’t feel they’re getting enough from high street banks and are cautious of how safe their money is should open a credit union account and support their community finances.”