3 Mar 2010

Stroud Valleys Credit Union AGM

Stroud Valleys Credit Union have their AGM on 27th March in The Library Meeting Room at 12 noon. I am sadly somewhere else at that time but wanted to give them a plug. Back in 2002 I helped establish the Forest Green branch which is still operating on Wednesdays at 2.30pm but now from the Forest Green Community Hall.

Photo: 'Slave beads' or 'trade beads' - these glass beads were used as currency in 16th to 20th century - see more here - saw these in Devon a while back and felt slightly uncomfortable about their associations - they were beautiful though!

Sadly both the Whiteshill Shop and Paganhill branches closed but there are branches now at Ebley Mill (Mon-Fri 9am to 4pm for paying-in only), Stonehouse (Thurs 10am to 12noon) and Stroud's Old Town Hall (Weds 10.30 to 12.30 and Sat 9.30 to 11.30).

For those unfamiliar with the concept Credit unions were once seen as primarily a poor person's bank, but are now widely recognised as having the potential to make a serious impact on the financial lives of many people in communities throughout the country.
The Stroud Valleys Credit Union aims to provide affordable loans, encourage savings and give members help and support in managing their money. It is not for profit nor is it a charity, but rather a service run by its’ members for its’ members. Figures have shown for example that 500 people taking out £1,000 loans to buy big-ticket items would save a total of £259,000 if they used a credit union rather than signing expensive hire-purchase agreements.

Credit unions are also good for more than just financial well-being. Members themselves suggested that by offering relief from financial worries, the credit union had the potential to reduce crime, suicide, alcohol and drug abuse and family conflicts - as well as leading to improvements in their quality of life. Credit Unions have also been shown to benefit to the local economy. So lots of 'wins'.

The Credit Union is carefully regulated and controlled by law and members money is well protected. It is not involved with any political organisations, but receives much cross-party support for its’ aims.

The Stroud Valleys Credit Union is one of some 700 such financial cooperatives in the country with a total of about 300,000 members. In the US around one in four adults belongs to a credit union. So by contrast, many in the UK are losing out on the benefits gained from being in a credit union.
Members are encouraged to save - from as little as £1 per week and can take loans out after 12 weeks. It is open to postcodes GL5, GL6 and GL10 - take proof of address, signature (eg driving licence) and £3 joining fee (£2 fee and £1 to start saving). More about the Stroud Valleys Credit Union can be found at: http://www.svcu.org.uk/

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