Work to record and preserve memories of credit union pioneers has continued under lockdown, thanks to a dedicated team of volunteers.
The Credit Union Foundation’s Save and Sound Project, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, has moved online, with eight volunteers – trained by the Oral History Society – using a podcasting platform to conduct interviews across the north of England.
The interviews will become part of the national oral history collection cared for by the British Library where they will be available to generations of researchers.
The project has interviews lined up for the coming months but is still keen for people with memories of credit unions before the year 2000 to get in touch and share their stories. The online platform means people can see each other but only the sound is recorded.
So that audio quality can be assured, people sharing their memories are provided with a microphone and headphones, as well as full instructions.
Volunteer Nancy Gray is new to credit unions but says she feels “very privileged and excited to be part of this project recording the history of the movement and the contribution it has made to bettering the financial health of so many of its members.”
Another volunteer, Co-op News’ international editor Anca Voinea, has volunteered because she wants to “help tell the stories of some of north of England’s credit union pioneers”.
And Chris Canham said: “Gathering and recording the story of credit unions is important and I hope it will encourage many people to take part.”
For Alan Hignett, the project is “perfectly timed to keep the oral knowledge of our credit union people alive for future generations.”
Marie Gray has been involved in the project from both sides. She is a volunteer interviewer with the project and contributed her own memories when team colleague Katie Kingsman, a student from Lancaster University, interviewed her in her own right. Marie said of her interview: “I appreciated the opportunity to talk about my experiences uninterrupted. It was a really good exercise.”
Project manager Abbie Shelton said: “We have already recorded some fascinating stories; I am really thankful for all the advice we have received, and I am proud of our volunteers who have risen admirably to the challenge of learning new technologies and techniques.
“We are really grateful to everyone who has already come forward, but we are still looking for more people to share their story. No matter what role you played in a credit union, your memories will help us tell the story of early credit unions and raise awareness of credit union heritage.”
If you are interested in contributing your memories to the project, or have photos or other items that you could share for inclusion on a new credit union heritage website, contact Abbie Shelton at [email protected] or visit the project’s website.