Actor and activist Michael Sheen has a new collaborator on the political stage in the form of Welsh assembly member Jane Hutt.
The long-standing AM for Vale of Glamorgan has joined the Hollywood star as patron of Credit Unions of Wales, with a vision of creating a ‘credit union nation’.
This vision has already won the backing of Welsh first minister Carwyn Jones, who said the Welsh government recognises “the valuable role credit unions play in providing ethical financial services and products”.
Ms Hutt said: “The fact that credit unions offer an ethical and affordable way of saving and borrowing for all of us is key. But they are also a way we can contribute to the whole community – including those who are experiencing hardship, debt and poverty.
“It is universal; we can all take part, we can all benefit and we can all help underpin this ethical borrowing and saving service for those who need it as an alternative to payday loans.”
She added that she would “work tirelessly to support the movement to make Wales a credit union nation”.
Ms Hutt joins existing Credit Unions of Wales patron, actor Michael Sheen, and the appointment will see the two collaborate to raise awareness and membership of the country’s 18 not-for-profit, community savings and affordable loans providers across Wales.
Leanne Herberg, CEO of Cardiff and Vale Credit Union said: “Jane Hutt has been a long-standing supporter and member of Cardiff and Vale Credit Union and the wider movement across Wales and so we are delighted that she has agreed to take up this patronage.”
And Nicola Field, manager of Bridgend Lifesavers Credit Union, added: “As the longest-serving Labour minister in the UK and an outstanding advocate of social justice, Ms Hutt will be a tremendous asset to Credit Unions of Wales and we look forward to working with her.”
Credit Unions of Wales has forged strong links with more than 140 employers across Wales. Organisations involved in the Payroll Partner scheme work to improve the financial wellbeing of staff by offering the opportunity to save or repay a loan with a credit union directly from their salary.
Meanwhile, Sheen has also been active for the credit union movement in Scotland, where he opened the new Leith branch of Castle Community Bank in Edinburgh.
In front of a huge crowd, including Scottish government minister Angela Constance, former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale and Ben McPherson MSP, the actor made a passionate speech about the work of credit unions.