The local credit union, YourCU, is taking on doorstep lenders on their ‘own’ turf by getting closer to communities that need to borrow cash in a hurry.
YourCU says the only way to compete with loan sharks is to make themselves easily available to those who need the cash. To do this, the West London-based union is introducing an outreach programme in a bid to get closer to customers.
“Loan sharks are currently winning the battle because they’re on the doorstep where people need them,” said YourCU’s William Rhodes. “Credit unions should go out among the people, just like pay day lenders, to get their message across. You can’t expect people to come to us.
“It is vital residents on low incomes have access to affordable finance, a bank account, and advice on how to manage their finances.”
YourCU, which covers Kensington & Chelsea, Westminster, Hammersmith & Fulham, Queens Park, Kensal Green and St Mary’s Park in Brent and Queenstown in Wandsworth, provides a safe and ethical way for people to borrow money.
The union holds regular pop-up sessions at Dalgarno Community Centre in north Kensington, Beethoven Community Information Centre in Westminster, Earls Court Health and Wellbeing Centre, and the offices of Kensington & Chelsea TMO at World’s End.
YourCU has also run sessions at the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council’s headquarters, local Jobcentre Plus offices, and is in talks with local church leaders about reaching out to the community.
In addition it has met with social housing providers including the Octavia housing association and Women’s Pioneer Housing and with unions, including the GMB who represent many of Westminster’s street cleaners
“There are currently a lot of politicians and people sitting around talking about this and wringing their hands on how to help people,” added William Rhodes.
“What we need is to be out in the community, where we can best help people by providing a safe and legal alternative to the ‘baseball bat brigade’.
“We need to ensure a way out for people trapped in an endless cycle of debt and 5,000% interest rates, from which many can see no way out.”
“Credit unions will also give more affluent residents in the area an opportunity to invest their money in a venture that will benefit their local community as well as giving them a financial return.”
The Bishop of Kensington recently opened an account with YourCU to support the Church’s bid to tackle payday lenders as part of a church-wide celebration to mark International Credit Union Day.
He visited the union’s pop-up branch at Dalgarno Community Centre following the Archbishop of Canterbury’s call for the Church to build up Britain’s network of credit unions to ‘compete’ payday lenders ‘out of existence’.
There are an estimated 24,500 ‘financially excluded’ households in Kensington & Chelsea alone, each paying a ‘poverty premium’ of up to £1,000 a year through higher borrowing costs, higher bills and lack of access to cheaper deals.
YourCU are members of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and offer flexible loans to suit all budgets to repay on a weekly, two-weekly or monthly basis.
For further information on Your CU visit: http://www.yourcu.co.uk or telephone 0207 605 6341 or visit YourCU at 346 High Street, Kensington, W14 8NS.