North East Lincolnshire’s new branch of HEY Credit Union, based in Grimsby’s Central Library, is working hard to help people to make their money go further, at a time when the cost of living crisis is biting deeply into family budgets.
That is the key message to members, supporters and partner organisations at an event held in Grimsby’s Town Hall today, Tuesday 14 June, when the Mayor of North East Lincolnshire, Councillor Steve Beasant officially launched the new venture. North East Lincolnshire Council has supported the Credit Union’s expansion into the area.
The move comes at a time when leading think-tank Centre for Social Justice reveals that over £1 million people in England could be in debt to an illegal money lender, in many cases because they are unaware of reputable alternatives or have turned to exploiters who often pose as a ‘friend’ on social media to entice new victims.
John Smith, HEY Credit Union’s Chief Executive, commented: “As a not-for-profit co-operative, owned by and run for the benefit of local people, our whole purpose is to support the community’s financial well-being not to make money out of them. By providing affordable lines of credit, coupled with safe easy ways to put money aside for rainy days, we can help people to weather the financial storm, avoid predatory lenders and become better off.”
Founded in 1999 by a group of keen volunteers, HEY Credit Union now operates across the Humber Region with over 15,000 adult members and junior savers. It has grown to become one of the leading community banks in Britain, and last year was voted UK Treating Customers Fairly Champions at the Consumer Credit Awards. However, it has only had a walk-in presence in Grimsby since February this year.
John explained: “We are thrilled to be extending our reach to North East Lincolnshire, an area shown to have a high need for credit but until now, very few affordable credit options for local people. Our products are designed to help people to smooth out their lumpy family budgets and spread the cost of major purchases over sensible periods without paying extortionate rates for credit. Any surplus we make is given back to our members each year as a dividend, not sucked out of the community to distant corporate headquarters.
“Although people can join, save and borrow with us online, we know many still like to discuss their financial needs face to face. Our Grimsby Credit Union team – Quinn and Sally – are the friendly face of finance and they are here for local people.”
As well as Grimsby Library, the team run outreach sessions at the Community Shop, Nunsthorpe, on Tuesdays, West Marsh Community Centre on Wednesdays, and Freeman Street Market on Fridays. Local membership has already grown to 370, with accumulated savings of £126,000 and loans issued over £200,000. Many members have opened Christmas Saver accounts to lock money safely aside for the festive season and regular savers are starting to earn £25 bonuses, an opening offer funded by the England-wide Stop Loan Sharks Team as part of their community support.
HEY Credit Union also has a workplace savings scheme that local employers can offer their staff to save direct from their wages. Research shows this to be the best way to develop a regular savings habit, helping people to build resilience against financial shocks.
To find out more about credit union membership, visit www.hullandeycu.co.uk, call 01482 778753 or pop into Grimsby Library Tuesdays to Thursdays 10am to 2pm.