The new credit union that has been set up in March attracted its first customers last week.
March Rainbow Savers drew an immediate response from local people when it opened for business last Wednesday (January 8) at Fenland District Council’s one-stop shop in Broad Street.
Volunteers Susanna Martins, Karin Hewitt and Sue Thornton were there to greet them, together with Ross McGivern, FDC’s senior community support officer.
March residents Richard and Jean Conway were among the first through the door.
Mrs Conway said: “I’d read about the credit union opening here and was interested to get to know more about it. Now I’ll definitely be passing on the information to others. I’m sure it’ll be very useful to a lot of people.”
Credit unions are cooperatives run by their members for the benefit of members. They offer safe savings accounts, small loans at reasonable interest rates and free life assurance thus providing a good alternative to banks, building societies, doorstep lenders and payday loan companies.
All money paid into members’ accounts is protected by the Government’s Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
People can open an account even if they have been refused one from a bank and they can also open an account for their children.
Joining up is easy. New members get a paying-in book and a PayPoint card which enables them to deposit money. To take money out they need to fill out a withdrawal form in the shop or call the offices in Peterborough or Lowestoft.
Once they have paid in for 13 weeks they will be able to apply for low interest loans - for example, a £300 loan repaid at £9 per week for 37 weeks will cost about £30 in interest.
March Rainbow Savers is the latest branch of the Rainbow Savers Anglia credit union, which operates across East Anglia. It has the strong support of Fenland District Council, the March Children’s Centre, Roddons Housing Association and March Rotary Club.
FDC Cabinet member Councillor Mike Cornwell said: “This offers a really good way of saving money and for those who need a small loan it offers much better value than most lenders.
“Rainbow Savers opened in Wisbech a year ago and has proved successful there. We think it can do the same for people in March. The branch will be run by volunteers and it’s great that some people have already agreed to help. However, we would always welcome more.”
· March Rainbow Savers will be open at the Fenland @ your service shop, Broad Street, each Wednesday, 10am-2pm. For more details or if you are interested in volunteering there, call Ross McGivern at Fenland District Council on 01354 654321 or email firstname.lastname@example.org