SPOTLIGHT ON GATEWAY CREDIT UNION
Set up more than 20 years ago in Trefethin, Pontypool, Gateway Credit Union has grown to 4,200 members across Torfaen and Monmouthshire, holding almost £3m in savings.
With four offices in Pontypool, Cwmbran, Abergavenny and Bulwark near Chepstow, three collection points, eight paid staff and 40 volunteers, Gateway has not stood still in those two decades.
Today it offers a range of financial services such as Christmas savings, junior accounts, school saver clubs, bonds, family loans, payroll partner accounts, the Change Account pre-paid debit card and community accounts for groups and societies alongside a range of loans from just £50 to £10,000.
General Manager Sara Burch explained: “The ethos of a fair, friendly and community-run savings and loans co-operative, putting the member first, informs everything Gateway does.
“The credit union differs from other high street financial organisations because we put people first.
“Our staff build relationships with members which is particularly important when deciding on loan applications, for example, as we treat them as individuals and not as some computer scoring exercise.”
Recognising that more members are accessing their services by phone, email and online, Gateway is about to launch a new easy-to-use app in conjunction with fellow credit unions across Wales.
They have also launched a new loan of up to £10,000 with a lowest rate of 4.9 percent APR.
They can offer discounted rates for staff employed by their payroll partners who can also apply for a fast-track loan.
Currently Gateway has a whole range of payroll partners including Torfaen and Monmouthshire County Councils, health boards, housing associations and private businesses ranging from the Celtic Manor resort to a local builders’ merchants.
They work with a number of schools by offering saver schemes which helps develop a young person’s financial knowledge, learn the benefits of saving and help improve numeracy skills.
Many members transfer their child benefits into a savings account which can also be used to pay off a Family Loan.
“A large amount of our work is centred around small loans,” Sara explained.
“This is particularly the case in recent times as we are supporting people through the welfare reform issues like Universal Credit which are having a huge impact on them.
“We want to encourage people to put money behind them and have some sense of financial security for the future, while also providing affordable loans for those who need it. The difficulty is when members’ finances are so tight they can’t afford to repay.
“The challenge for us is to continually meet the expectations of a changing membership, particularly as more use online facilities rather than make branch office or collection point visits.”
Gateway Credit Union has branch offices in Pontypool, Cwmbran, Abergavenny and Bulwark near Chepstow. They also have collection points in Monmouth, Cwmbran and the Trevethin estate in Pontypool where the organisation was first formed.
For further details visit www.gatewaycu.co.uk, tel or email