CroydonPlus Credit Union is celebrating its contribution to communities across south London as part of International Credit Union Day on 20th October. Talking with members, it’s easy to see why.
“You’re an idiot,” the stranger said to Helena in the Post Office as they chatted while she queued to make payday loan repayments. The woman was making a blunt point: if finances are tight it’s important to be smart with money. Using payday lenders isn’t that smart.
Five years later Helena has taken the advice, opened a credit union account with CroydonPlus, changed her ways and paid off her 11 payday loans.
“I was living on a loaf of bread and a can of beans a week,” says Helena, “now I save a small amount every month to build up a little nest egg and can borrow money if I have an emergency come along.”
Credit Unions are savings and loans cooperatives. Members with a track record of saving regularly can apply for loans that are cheaper than short term lenders and usually cheaper than the high street banks.
Helena opened her account in early 2011. In November of that year her cooker was condemned. “I cried, Christmas was going to be impossible. I decided to apply for a loan with the credit union, they said yes. I was amazed and cried again.”
“International Credit Union Day is a great day to celebrate how we help our members in Croydon, Sutton and Merton. Credit Unions throughout the country are joining in,” said Peter Hutchison, Manager at CroydonPlus.
CroydonPlus, also known as Croydon, Merton and Sutton Credit Union, has worked hard to modernise and improve services for members and communities across Croydon, Merton and Sutton over the last year.
“We’re cheaper because we work for our members in Croydon, Sutton and Merton and don’t have shareholders who take money out of business. We now support online accounts, making it easier to open an account and for people who are struggling with money, we’re a friendly voice that can help over the phone.”
Helena’s took out a new loan earlier this year to pay for accommodation for her son’s wedding so she’s still celebrating the benefits of international credit union day for her and her family. “I think the credit union is amazing”, she says, “I think everyone should open a credit union account, I’ve told all my friends – they’ve opened accounts.”