Source: Forres Gazette
A LOCAL savings and loans cooperative celebrated International Credit Union Day.
Moray Firth Credit Union (MFCU), based at 53 High Street, Forres commemorated the occasion with a window display as well as fancy dress for some of the staff and volunteers.
MFCU founding member Lorna Creswell confirmed that, after 25 years in existence, it now has more than 3000 members saving or taking out loans at favourable rates of interest, while promoting financial education and encouraging good savings habits.
Ms Creswell said: “We still have the window display up showing where credit unions are around the world and the vast number of people involved in the movement. Our volunteers dressed in some of the representative country’s costume.”
International Credit Union Day celebrates the spirit of the global movement, reflecting upon its history, achievements and member experiences.
The ultimate goal each year is to raise awareness about the work that credit unions and other financial cooperatives are doing around the world. This year’s theme was “Inspiring hope for a global community”.
Credit union services became even more important over the past year due to the ongoing financial impact of coronavirus, which has set them apart from other financial institutions. For example at SCVO Credit Union, accounts were frozen and extensions of both emergency loan amounts and payments were granted to help support members.
Ms Creswell said: “We have had a drop in loans over the pandemic so had to seek grants and diversify to meet the needs of local families, some of whom needed emergency funds for necessities, food vouchers and referrals for fuel and food packages. We were also a contact for people to drop things off as we remained open as an essential financial service, mainly to support those who have their welfare benefits paid into credit union accounts rather than bank accounts.”
Ms Creswell linked credit unions to community wealth building: a people-centred approach to economic development which redirects wealth back into the local economy, and places control and benefits into the hands of local people.
She said: “Community wealth building collectively addresses economic inequalities and I participated in a webinar last week that mentioned credit unions alongside shared ownership of buildings and land. It talked about procurement strategies that reflected local community needs, and making the best of derelict land and premises.”
MFCU is expanding along the coast.
Ms Creswell said: “We encourage others to join. Teamwork, sharing and mutuality are inspiring and making sense to more people. We are now establishing collection points in Elgin and Buckie.”
MFCU is owned and managed by its members who have equal say in how it is run and collectively own its assets. Any member can be considered for its board who meet fortnightly.
Ms Creswell finished: “We lend for cars, house repairs and extensions, garden furniture and holidays – as long as the request for a loan is for philanthropic purpose. Credit unions are spreading the word about being about people rather than profit. Not for profit, not for charity but for people helping people… why would that not be good to be involved in?”