New oral history project will collect credit union stories

Volunteers will collect 40 oral histories from credit union pioneers across the North of England

The Credit Union Foundation has launched an oral history project to gather and preserve the stories of the people who set up and ran credit unions in the north of England from the 1960s to the 1990s.

Funded by the National Lottery, the Save and Sound project was launched online today, 15 October, to mark International Credit Union Day.  The initiative will see volunteers collect 40 oral histories from credit union pioneers across the region. The interviews will become part of the national oral history collection cared for by the British Library.

The launch featured Lord Kennedy of Southwark, chair of the Credit Union Foundation Trustee Board, Dr Paul A. Jones, reader in the social economy at Liverpool John Moores University and Mary Stewart, curator of Oral History and deputy director of National Life Stories at the British Library.  

Lord Kennedy said: “The Credit Union Foundation is proud to have been entrusted with this important project. It is because of the commitment and enthusiasm of our credit union pioneers that communities and workplaces can now access safe savings and affordable credit. Save and Sound will ensure that their efforts are not forgotten.”

Dr Jones said: “A wide range of people have been involved in establishing credit unions in Britain, from churches and community groups to trade unions and local government. I look forward to Save and Sound producing a collection of interviews which reflects the diversity of influences within the sector.”

Ms Stewart said: “These interviews will enrich the national collection of oral histories with detailed, personal testimonies about the foundation of credit unions, and their day to day function. On behalf of National Life Stories at the British Library, I am delighted that researchers now and in the future will be able to access to these recordings alongside our other rich holdings on the banking and finance sectors.”  

The interviews will be available on a new website, which will include multimedia content and other materials. The project will also produce a new online course and podcast to help more people understand the heritage of credit unions.

To support the selected volunteers, the Oral History Society will provide online training in oral history techniques and help them to carry out at least 40 interviews across the north of England. The Foundation will also create a toolkit to enable similar projects to be carried out in other parts of England, Scotland and Wales.

Those interested can contact project manager Abbie Shelton on 07498 928188 / [email protected] for further information.

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