Friday, 20 November 2009

Darlington Credit Union Launched

Last night was the launch party for the Darlington Credit Union, painstakingly pieced together over two and a half years by merging together the four existing credit unions in the town. Much of the credit for this must go to my friend Cllr Alan Coultas who chaired the steering group. The Credit Union is now large enough to employ a full-time salaried co-ordinator, another good friend of mine, Tony Brockley.

A fair smattering of the great and good of Darlington were there, including the Chief Executive of Darlington Borough Council, Ada Burns, and the High Sheriff of Durham, Alasdair MacConachie. Both made nice short speeches, while Alasdair also handed out a number of certificates to volunteers from the four unions, in recognition of their years of service.

Inevitably the hot favourite (you'll know why if you've seen the final short list of unknowns up against her) for the Labour Party nomination to be their Parliamentary Candidate, Cllr Jenny Chapman, was there briefly, speaking on behalf of the Leader of the Council.

Maybe you're wondering where the photo comes into this. Well, after the formalities and presentations, three actors from Newcastle presented an interactive play, recounting the lives of two people who had run into debt, giving the audience the opportunity to intervene in an attempt to alter the course of events as the play went on. It was good fun and the audience entered into the swing of it.

Credit Unions are very much more widespread in countries like Ireland and the USA. We certainly need this new venture in Darlington, to provide people, particularly those suffering from financial exclusion, with access to low cost financial services and to help them avoid the clutches of loan sharks.

1 comment:

james said...

Being a fan of co-operative enterprise, I'm pleased to hear of this merger. It's worth noting that all of the demutualised building societies have now collapsed, most notably Northern Rock and I think it would be worth returning the bailed-out banks to mutual ownership.

Though the Tories are no doubt keen to promote social enterprise as a way of fragmenting existing public services, I wonder how big the Liberals are on co-ops these days? Time was, there was lots of talk about this sort of thing. Since the 2001 manifesto, no mention of extending ownership.