Credit unions in north west England say Covid has driven membership rise

Meanwhile in London, Lewisham Plus Credit Union has received funding to help its community recover from the pandemic

Credit unions in the north west of England have seen a huge increase in members as people struggle under the economic impact of Covid-19, says sector body Abcul.

Last month, eight credit unions across Greater Manchester united behind a Covid-19 recovery plan, to offer £15m in financial support to members.

“We are definitely seeing younger people coming to see us,” said South Manchester Credit Union (SMCU) CEO, Sheenagh Young.

“I think it is particularly hard for young people at the moment because their life chances are so affected by Covid.

“They are finding that we are probably more accessible than they realised because of the digital approach that we have got and I think on social media our marketing is reaching out more.”

She added: “We are finding that for some people lockdown has been a time when they have been able to save, their spending has gone down, and perhaps they have been doing extra hours if they are a key worker, working at a hospital.

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“They have saved up more money and they are perhaps starting to think of their finances in a different way.”

Meanwhile in London, Lewisham Plus Credit Union has received a share of £9.5m of National Lottery funding to help its community recover from the impacts of the pandemic.

The £75,000 grant has been awarded through the Covid-19 Community-Led Organisations Recovery Scheme (CCLORS). The scheme is led by independent trust Power to Change in partnership with Locality, The Ubele Initiative and Social Investment Business, and was part of The National Lottery Community Fund’s Coronavirus Community Support Fund, that launched in May this year.

The grant will enable the credit union to establish a branch at New Cross Gate to serve the communities of Deptford and New Cross with much needed financial services.

Frank Whittle, President of Lewisham Plus Credit Union, said: “This grant will help us to return to the north of the borough through the establishment of a much-needed branch, providing valuable services to an area which is currently deprived of essential financial providers. We hope to make a difference to our community in this area and help them to prosper.”