Bishop Richard Blackburn, himself a former banker, has voiced his support for credit unions and joined one on International Credit Union day.
Bishop Richard Blackburn, himself a former banker, has voiced his support for credit unions and joined one on International Credit Union day. He said:
"We all know the debt crisis that blights the lives of so many vulnerable people in society. We daily hear the stories of those forced into desperate choices between food, rent and clothing. We worry about Wonga and the pay day loan culture which seems to push more people into a cycle of debt. There has to be an alternative.
"In a different era in a different world I worked in banking. It was a time when we had to have a personal relationship with our customers, when our judgement of a person’s character and ability to pay carried much weight in prudent financial decisions. A time when we weren’t looking to tempt people with what seems like easy money but results in the stress of crippling high interest loan repayments.
"I don’t want to look at the world through the rose tinted glasses of nostalgia but I support the Archbishop of Canterbury and the national church in trying to find an alternative, ethical and non exploitative method to support the poor and marginalised.
"That’s why, on International Credit Union day, I am joining a Credit Union. That’s why I encourage other Christians to join Credit Unions. That’s why my prayer is that churches of all denominations support their local Credit Union.
Credit Unions are a credible alternative. They are not a substitute as they don’t offer short term loans. But their brand of responsible borrowing and saving encourages a realistic approach to managing money. An approach that does not see a short term fix turn into in a long term calamity. An approach that encourages responsible saving helping people not get back into a continual cycle of having to take out short term loans.
"I am joining because I want to be a member of an organisation that is run by its members and supports its members. An organisation that brings together people with an interest, and in this case a financial stake, in making the world a better place. Somewhere that is not attempting to make a quick, exploitative profit but puts the interests of others ahead of its own potential gain.
"This is what God calls us to do. In his cry for us to help bring justice to the poor, marginalised and vulnerable he teaches us to be good stewards of our God given resources. We can do this in practical ways. We can do this through example. For me, joining a Credit Union embodies those values and answers God’s call.
The church has a longstanding relationship with Credit Unions. Many of the longstanding local unions were founded with the support of an Anglican or Catholic clergy person. It’s part of our mission. A mission that has seen the rise of the church’s involvement with Foodbank, Debt Advice and anything we can to make poverty history.
"This is necessary important work. But I am personally challenged by the remorseless rise of the short term loan and the desperate situations that many find themselves in. I am challenged to do more to help find an alternative to the pervading aggressive marketing of the short term loan industry. I believe that Credit Unions are that alternative and that’s why I am joining. And that’s why I encourage everyone to join their local credit union. I believe it’s my Christian duty and calling. I believe it can be everyone’s right, just and moral response".