On Tuesday I went and did something that I have been meaning to do for years- I went and restarted my dormant Lodge Lane Credit Union account and put a few (a very few!) bob in it.
I did this for three reasons:
Firstly, I was remorselessly bullied by Marie the volunteer who runs the local operation at St Barnabas Church at the end of Penny Lane! Every time she saw me she asked me why I hadn’t been down. Eventually I ran out of excuses!
Secondly, I am fed up with being taken for granted by the Banks. My bank wrote to me recently to tell me how they were improving the service that I would get by decreasing the rate of interest they would pay me. I know that many of the people I met in my local branch and indeed most people who work for banks are as appalled at the behaviour of the brash suited people also classed as bankers as we are. The pressure that they have endured to try and get us to buy unsuitable products has been immense. So I do feel sorry for them being tarred with the brush of ‘bankers and bonuses’ but enough is enough.
Thirdly, by putting money into the Credit Union I can really help my local community. My money can be invested with local people and local businesses that are either having problems or see opportunities. People in debt can, under certain conditions, access money quickly and importantly, cheaply to deal with those problems. They do not need to go to pay day lenders they can round the corner to an organisation that understand them and their problems and can deal with them swiftly, efficiently and in a caring manner. The money that I have put in will re-circulate round the community and help keep money and profits inside our city – very important at a time when most financial decisions are made far from our city.
I then found a fourth reason for putting money in with them. They do not pay interest on you money but they do pay a dividend. Although they do not guarantee to pay a dividend, that after all depends on them making a ‘profit’, but almost every year they have paid a dividend out on their share account which equals or exceeds the interest payable on instant access building society or bank accounts.
Credit Unions are not the total solution to reforming the bank mess. For example I also have some saving with the Furness Building Society which is the only independent Building Society based in the North West to have a Liverpool Branch (in Castle Street). They could however be a much greater part of the solution to the problems.
So thank you Marie for making me see the light once again and also to you and all your fellow volunteers who make the credit union work. Erica, Tom and I have given some money from our ward funds to help them market the Union to savers and borrowers alike. The Lodge Lane office (81 Lodge Lane – tel 734 2561) is open almost full time and there is a collection point in Lawrence Road (46, Lawrence Road tel 733 5375). I will use the collection point in my ward at St Barnabas Church which takes place every Tuesday between 10.30 and 12.
Web site http://www.lodgelanecreditunion.coop
Use the Credit Union, help yourself and at the same time help your community.