Reestablishing a link with the Churches

Solent Credit Union reestablishing its link with the Churches

A bit of history

Originally Solent Credit Union was set up by a group of Christians. Prompted by Chris Davis, the Southampton City Missioner, who, through his work with the financially disadvantaged in the City, saw the need for a Credit Union or similar, which could help those who were in financial straits, as an ethical alternative to loan sharks and doorstep lenders. A group therefore came together from churches of different denominations across the city which established Sanctuary Credit Union and which, in spite of mergers first with Southampton Co-operators CU and then with Eastleigh CU, remains the surviving legal entity.

The idea was that local churches, through their social outreach, would have contacts with people who would benefit from membership of SCU and would signpost people in that direction. Unfortunately, the link with the churches never materialised in sufficient numbers and was finally dropped after the merger with Eastleigh CU. Despite this, a good proportion of our volunteers are Christian.

We miss the relationship

The churches in South Hampshire run their own initiatives and also support a variety of organisations that focus on the people Solent Credit Union serves or would like to serve; organisations such as Christians Against Poverty https://capuk.org/, Communicare https://communicareinsouthampton.org.uk/, Good Neighbours https://www.goodneighbours.org.uk/, Olive Branch http://www.theolivebranch.org.uk/, SCRATCH https://www.scratchcharity.co.uk/, Southampton City Mission http://www.southamptoncitymission.co.uk/, Street Pastors https://www.streetpastors.org/, Winchester Churches Nightshelter http://www.wcns.org.uk/ and YMCA https://www.ymca.org.uk/. And of course, many Christians are involved in other organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureaux and Southampton Voluntary Services.

We would like to re-establish links with churches and church organisations. We would like to involve some members of churches as Directors of SCU. We would like to call for giving, prayer and volunteering support from churches. We are not looking for a one-way flow of benefits: we provide services to our public that few others can provide. We support saving on a regular basis separate from one’s main account: for a special purpose, for an unforeseen emergency or to discourage spontaneous spending. We offer payroll deduction schemes for willing employers, both for savings and for loan repayment. We offer affordable loans, and we can help applicants consolidate high-interest payday loans and come up with a bit more cash as well for a considerably lower monthly outlay. We encourage practical money management. Our services go along with a human face to saving and borrowing.

How do we go about resolving this lack of connection?

We would love to hear what churches and church-based organisations would like from us: where they feel we could support them in their service to the public. And we would love to involve churches and church people in our organisation, as volunteers and Directors, so they became part of our face on the future. To be very clear, we are an organisation dedicated to serving people of all faiths and none, and are not proposing any change to this.

We’d love to talk to you. We are developing a new strategy and plans for the future, and would like your help.

For more information, please contact one of these people:

Brian Ridsdale brianr@solentcreditunion.co.uk 07710038594

Gordon Cockburn gordonc@solentcreditunion.co.uk

SCU website: www.solentcreditunion.co.uk