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Churches urged to invest in credit unions

A London vicar is calling on local parochial church councils and congregations to help stop doorstep lenders making ‘money out of misery’ by investing with a credit union ...

A London vicar is calling on local parochial church councils and congregations to help stop doorstep lenders making ‘money out of misery’ by investing with a credit union.
 
Fr David Ackerman, from St John the Evangelist, Kensal Green, has deposited £10,000 of contingency fund savings into West London YourCu credit union to help support people in the community until it is needed by the church.
 
Like the Archbishop of Canterbury, he believes unions can help save people from debt by offering a way of getting finance without having to go to a payday lender or loan shark.
 
Says Fr Ackerman: “St John’s was able to invest money from the contingency fund, designated by the PCC as being available if required. Many churches have similar funds that are either designated or restricted.
 
“We were earning just 0.5 per cent interest from a high street bank, but by investing in a credit union we actually doubled our interest rate. Money can also be withdrawn at any time if we need it urgently. So everyone wins.
 
“In addition to donations to charities, our investment with YourCU is a very public way of supporting people who need loans, and who might not find that facility anywhere else.”
 
In the past two years St John’s has undergone extensive stone work, improvements and external repairs, in a project generously supported by English Heritage and Heritage of London but that also called on church funds.
 
Adds Fr Ackerman: “With so much money going on the regeneration of the church building, it was important that an investment in the community should take place at the same time.
 
“Churches that require repairs need to raise money and seek grants, but I also wanted us to ask ourselves: what do we give, what do we do for our community?
 
“The PCC at St John’s has decided to set aside £2000 per year for the pipe organ, as a fund for restoration when the time comes – which it invariably will – and so the church’s investment with YCU will go up £2000 per year.
 
“So, we are now supporting ethical credit whilst saving up for the organ, a good combination!”
 
Fr David’s is urging local churches to look at any funds that could be moved from low interest savings accounts into a credit union and publicise it the fact to the local community.
 
“Then people not only become more aware of credit unions but see that the church is using its resources for the good of others, while protecting its assets.”
 
William Rhodes, chief executive of YourCU, who are based in Kensington High Street, said the organisation was delighted St John’s was throwing its weight behind the credit union movement.
 
He says: “Saving with a union means we can offer people who are in need of an affordable loan, or who need to consolidate their debts, somewhere to turn.
 
“It also provides better-off residents with opportunity to invest their money to benefit their local community as well as giving them a decent financial return.”
 
To open an account visit www.yourcu.co.uk or call 020 7605 6341. The maximum that can be invested per year is £15,000.

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