Hastings & Rother Credit Union is celebrating its 20th birthday.
In July 1999 the town’s MP, Michael Foster, became the first member signed up to what was then Hastings & St Leonards Credit Union. It had been set up by Hastings Borough Council and 1066 Housing Association to provide savings and affordable loans to residents of Hastings Borough keeping the money within the local community. A few years later the Common Bond was extended to include the Rother Area.
Credit Unions started in the mid-19th century in southern Germany and spread to the USA, Canada, the Caribbean and Ireland in the century which followed. In 1960 the first credit union in the UK was established in Northern Ireland and more followed.
The most recent figures from the Bank of England indicate 429 credit unions in the UK with 1.8 million adult members and 240,000 junior members.
HRCU currently serves nearly 3,000 individual members as well as an increasing number of small community groups. Although there are currently 2 paid members of staff, much of the work relies on volunteers and they are always seeking more volunteers.
President, Richard Street, thanked those who had been involved
over the years as staff and volunteers in both establishing it and ensuring it
continues to provide community banking services to local residents and
“There was a real need for a credit union back in the 90s and sadly there’s an even greater need now as more and more families are finding it hard to survive on the lowest incomes. We provide an alternative to the loan sharks and payday lenders that prey on the most vulnerable.”
Mr Street also spoke of the upcoming extension of services provided to local councils and close working with HARC, Hastings Furniture Services and others who provide support for those in greatest need.
Member number one, Michael Foster who is still a member and keen
“The Credit Union has done an amazing task over the past 20 years in providing for those on modest means who could not obtain regular finance to avoid the doorstep lenders exploiting their poverty and those involved should be heartily congratulated.”
“The Credit Union also gives the opportunity to invest in a worthwhile cause, which I have been happy to do for the past 20 years. The money is safe and I would encourage others with an interest to join the Credit Union and make regular investments to provide funds that can be recycled in our local community for the benefit of many in need.
“Thank you and congratulations, Hastings & Rother Credit Union, on your 20th birthday.”
If you are interested in supporting Hastings & Rother Credit Union by spending some time using your skills to help them grow and improve the services they offer, please visit their website www.hrcu.org.uk or drop in at one of their Information Points at The Advice Hub in London Road St Leonards on Wednesdays from 2 to 3pm or at the Community Contact Centre, Hastings Town Hall on Fridays from between 2pm and 4pm.