Covid 19: Updates from the co-op movement, 3 April

Updates from Ireland, Canada, the USA and India

Global

Ireland

Dundalk and Cuchullain credit unions are offering financial support to organisations that are putting the needs of others ahead of their own during the coronavirus crisis.

Dundalk Credit Union has repurposed its Community Support Fund as a COVID 19 Community Response Fund. Alongside Cuchullain Credit Union it will be offer financial assistance to organisations like Cú Chulainn Blood Bikes, a local voluntary organisation that provides a transportation service for blood, human tissue, patient records and human infant milk; Meals on Wheels and Women’s Aid Dundalk.

Dundal CEO Billy Doyle said: “We see the true strength of community in times of challenge and uncertainty, and over the years we have witnessed the people of Dundalk, and indeed across Co Louth, rally in crisis, responding with resilience and solidarity, and one of these times is upon us.”

Cuchullain CEO Brigene Litchfield added: “Community is at the heart of the Credit Union movement, and we are happy to play our part to help the wider Dundalk community to stay safe and to successfully navigate these unchartered waters.”

India

National Cooperative Union of India (NCUI) has offered the use of its 48-room capacity hostel in Delhi to the government for use as an isolation hospital.

“We will leave no stone unturned to defeat the virus,” said NCUI president Dr Chandra Pal Singh Yadav.

NCUI will also donate one day’s salary of its 250 staff to the National Relief Fund – an estimated R 5 lakh (£5,300).

USA

Federally insured, low income-designated credit unions may request grants and loans from the National Credit Union Administration to help members, businesses and communities through the Covid-19 crisis.

Funding comes from the Community Development Revolving Loan Fund, a program that is funded through the appropriations process, unlike the rest of the NCUA.

Credit union trade groups have been pushing for a supplemental spending boost for the revolving fund, but so far, that request has not been included in the federal rescue packaged for US businesses.

Credit unions can apply for the Covid 19 Emergency Response grants or loans until May 22. Loans have a maximum award of $250,000 and will mature in three years.

Grants of up to $10,000 will be awarded on a rolling basis throughout the application period. In addition, $700,000 in grant funds for digital services and cybersecurity training and underserved outreach programs will be available. Applications for those grant funds will be available between May 1 and June 30.

Canada

More measures from financial co-op giant Desjardins, including steps to support young people struggling with cancelled studies and other plans, isolation and anxiety. A psychological and legal hotline has been put in place for Desjardins members and clients aged 30 and under.

Desjardins has also given CA$210,000 to youth support services Kids Help Phone and Alloprof, to help them handle the increased call volumes they’re receiving.

And Desjardins Foundation has added another $500,000 to its scholarship fund this year, bringing the total to $1.8m. Scholarship applications need to be submitted on the Foundation website by April 15.

Desjardins is also expanding relief for all personal members and clients, including youth. As of March 30, a deferred payment request form is available www.desjardins.com/ca/covid-19/personal-relief-measures so members and clients can apply for relief online.

And loans of last resort of up to $3,000 are being offered to personal members hit hard by COVID-19, for a maximum of 12 months, at a special interest rate of 4.97%. A reduced interest rate of 10.9% is being granted to personal credit card holders.

Other initiatives include giving $475,00 to large organisations to United Way/Centraide Canada, the Canadian Red Cross, Food Banks of Quebec and Feed Ontari, and 20,000 N95 masks and 40,000 surgical masks to the Quebec government.

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