A London-based Your Credit Union is offering a ‘Banking Buddy’ service to its members who want to open a bank account but lack the confidence to go along on their own.
The Kensington High Street union says having a current account helps people improve their credit score, and means they can pay bills by Direct Debit, shop online and draw out funds at home and internationally.
“Some people feel too intimidated to cross the threshold because they feel it’s just ‘not for them’; others might not feel confident speaking English and are anxious they won’t be ‘heard’,” said Your Credit Union CEO William Rhodes.
“For others, it might be a case of them having been turned down for an account in the past and are loath to face any potential further embarrassment by trying again. That is where having a Banking Buddy comes in.
“If someone is there with you, it can be like having an imaginary arm around your shoulder, knowing someone is there on your side.
“Everyone has a right to one of these basic current accounts. They don’t come with an overdraft facility or a cheque book, but you do get a Visa Debit card which means you can pay for things online.
“We make sure they bring along enough proof to satisfy the bank and sit with them while they’re going through the form.”
In a unique agreement with Barclays in West London, Your Credit Union will book and accompany the individual to an appointment with a named member of the bank staff.
The union already holds regular pop-up sessions at Barclays branches across West London and the new move is seen as a way of strengthening the relationship and supporting local people.
Added Mr Rhodes: “Barclays have been hugely supportive to us over the past 18 months, allowing the organisation to hold regular pop-ups in their branches in West London, and we are delighted to do something that is mutually supportive.”
The union recently helped José from Portugal who has been living in the UK since 2005 and who has never been able to open a current account with a bank. He is now a proud Barclays current account holder.
“I’ve tried a couple of times over the years, but it I always seem to get declined and just walk out feeling dejected.
“Having no Debit Card makes things really tricky, especially when I go back home to see my family. I end up having to take cash with me as I can’t draw any money out which isn’t ideal.
“Having a bank account it is really good news. I can buy things on the internet which can often be much cheaper.”
Anyone who would like Your Credit Union to help them open a bank account with the Bank Buddy Service call: 0207 605 6341.