CUW Awards 2020: Access to Financial Services


Credit Unions of Wales Awards: Access to Financial Services.

The third Credit Unions of Wales Awards will take place on Friday 2 October 2020.

The awards celebrate the payroll partners, volunteers, members and schools whose exceptional work within the credit union movement has a positive impact on communities across Wales.

UK individuals and households are increasingly finding it difficult to access to financial services available in their community due to the closure of many high street financial institutions.

The new Access to Financial Services Award is open to credit unions who have launched innovative projects to provide improved access to financial services for communities and individuals.

The nominations are:

Dragonsavers Credit Union
While there seems to be an “app” for everything these days, sometimes old fashioned, face to face access is just what members want and need.

Dragonsavers “Pop Up” Outreach began as a solution to overpriced, underused high street premises and a willingness to share space in the local community. 

While Dragonsavers has benefited from volunteer run community  satellite points, these new Outreach points were designed to be “an office in a box” where members could access and transact on their accounts as if they had visited a branch office.

Venues have been in local housing advice offices, with mental health support organisations and in local authority centres, but the most successful have been those set up in the local libraries.

Currently Dragonsavers has outreach “pop up’s” in Aberdare, Pontypridd, Hirwaun and Rhydfelin Libraries.

The benefit to the credit union from this outreach model is that they are able to keep in touch with members and be accessible. The cost is minimal as the space the free and the time spent at the outreach is covered by existing staff. 

The benefit to the community is in making good use of existing community resources and keeping these open for the future.

 

SaveEasy Credit Union
SaveEasy has opened five pop-up branches in addition to its 12 collection points and four main branches.

The pop-up branches have been opened in Brechfa, Pencader, Lampeter, Carmarthen and Narberth.  This has involved networking with local charity, not-for-profit and community groups to house our pop-up branches.

Each pop-up is fully equipped with staff, meaning members have access to full Credit Union services including a loan officer which allows loan decisions to be made the same day.

Locations were chosen based on a decline or lack of banking facilities.

Each pop-up has its own membership register, own collection sheets and each loan purpose is recorded. Each pop – up continues to grow with positive feedback from members and the community.

Marketing and promotion of the pop-ups within these areas has been undertaken through a variety of means including delivering talks to local groups and town councils, door-door leafleting, canvassing and advertising in the local papers and Facebook.

Each pop-up provides a low cost alternative to the high interest doorstep lenders and have helped people to avoid unethical lenders. Another success is the rise in community accounts which has allowed local projects to run effectively. 

 

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