Bristol Credit Union celebrates birthday with ambitious growth plan

‘It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come over the last 20 years by focusing on serving our members and local communities’

Bristol Credit Union (BCU) is celebrating its 20th birthday with a month of #20GoodThings – sharing and doing good deeds around Bristol and Bath. This includes weekly rewards for members, and working to clean and green up the local area.

Based in the city’s Stokes Croft area, the credit union was registered on 15 July 1999 by volunteers in east Bristol to offer services to people who couldn’t access bank accounts or borrow on the high street.

The credit union now serves the whole of the former Avon county. With over 14,000 members, it claims to be the biggest in the south west region and one of the largest in the UK. It now hopes to triple in size over the next five years thanks to a £500,000 investment from Bristol City Council, and a further £475,000 of investments from charitable foundations and co-op lenders.

BCU says this will help increase its presence in local communities around Bristol, improve its online user experience and increase the number of affordable loans it can make.

Over the last 20 years, the credit union has provided over £30m of affordable loans, saving up to £17.4m in interest compared to alternative, often high-cost, lenders. And thousands of local people have developed a saving habit, collectively saving nearly £7.5m.

Chief executive James Berry said: “It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come over the last 20 years by focusing on serving our members and local communities instead of maximising profit at all costs. Some of the first volunteers are still around today, and I’m so pleased for them that their efforts have produced such a great local success story.

 “With nearly 700 local businesses, community groups and co-operatives as members, we’re now able to put even more back into our local area and do more good stuff like helping over 1,200 children save in their schools with our Money Munchers saving club. 

“With our ambitious but realistic plans for growth  – which our investors have shown their confidence in by backing us – we are looking forward to doing good with money for the next 20 years.”