“It’s taken a while to get here, but it really couldn’t have come at a better time,” Caitlin Bisknell said as she helped to launch the Manchester Credit Union in High Peak.
“Credit unions are more needed now than ever. I am delighted that it’s starting in Gamesley and very pleased that plans are already in hand to extend the scheme to my own ward in Fairfield – and hopefully to other areas of the borough too.
“Changes to the way benefits are paid – make this welcome news even more important as it will hopefully prevent vulnerable residents – from falling into the clutches of unscrupulous loan sharks.
“As a not for profit organisation Manchester Credit Union cares more about the community than in making money, offering a refreshing and positive alternative to the doorstep lenders, pay day loan companies we increasingly see on our high streets and even in our homes via the internet and TV ads which exploit people with extortionately high interest rates.
“Like many, I was horrified to hear and read the story of Mike who borrowed £250 from a family friend to buy a car. The friend turned out to be a loan shark. 17 years later he had paid back a total of more than £90,000. During those years he had a heart attack, seen his family lose their home and tried to kill himself. Eventually he contacted trading standards, the loan shark was prosecuted and sent to prison. Mike now has a new identity to protect him and his family.
“Mike has his own message for people desperate enough to borrow from an illegal lender, I quote: ‘People usually go to loan sharks because they have a bad credit record: nine times out of 10 the high street banks will say no. But in that situation you should get help from a credit union. I borrowed £360 to get my car windows mended, and the loan was repaid in 20 weeks with no pressure.’”
Caitlin praised the partnership working that had finally persuaded the Financial Services Agency to allow MCU to work in High Peak.
“I hope no one here has ever been in the situation that Mike found himself in – and now the Manchester Credit Union has been launched in High Peak – there is a real alternative – and I urge everyone to spread the word throughout our communities.
“Today marks a big step forward – and to use one of my husband’s favourite quotes from the late John Smith MP, former leader of the Labour Party – this is about giving a hand up, not a hand out. I wish the scheme well – and look forward to its expansion across the borough – and maybe even further into Derbyshire.”