By Beck Golubows, South Manchester Credit Union
This October, the eight community credit unions of Greater Manchester, collectively known as Sound Pound, will be launching our first-ever Credit Union Awareness Month; getting people talking about one of the finance industry’s best-kept secrets.
Credit unions are financial institutions that are owned and controlled by our members; like community banks, aiming to bring financial inclusion back to the city region. We build the wealth of local people by providing low-interest loans and convenient savings accounts with a community-first ethos.
In Greater Manchester, there are 65,000 credit union members, some borrowing to afford their dream car, some setting up businesses, some saving for retirement, and some on low income who use credit unions services to pay for vital energy and food. In 2020, borrowers from the Sound Pound credit unions saved £13m in interest and charges, making them better off than they would have otherwise been. The vast majority of those who borrowed also spent their money locally, creating a financially resilient eco-system by driving the local economy.
The Covid-19 pandemic has altered people’s lives. For some, their bank balance has been hit hard due to reduced pay or redundancy. Credit unions have stood by those experiencing financial hardship, offering a friendly and human approach to provide financial help as well as referring people for additional support. Others have had time to focus on personal ventures and started something new for themselves. Credit unions have backed entrepreneurial opportunities and given them a fresh career path.
Throughout the pandemic, so much changed. People came together for support bringing positive energy. Sound Pound’s credit unions are determined to continue with this energy whilst building back fairer and giving more people in our communities better life chances through safe and honest lending, fair rates of interest and dedicated time to listen and understand their current circumstances.
Whilst the country focuses on levelling up, our key messages need to be amplified. In this spirit, our #HowsYourBalance challenge will be launched as part of Credit Union Awareness Month this October.
The campaign challenges people to balance something on their body, take a picture and post it on social media – nominating three friends to do the same along with the hashtags #HowsYourBalance and #CreditUnionAwareness. This has a fun double meaning; whilst asking you to balance something on your body, #HowsYourBalance also asks people to reflect on the state of their finances.
If you’d like to join in the fun, why not start it off yourself? Get the funniest, most challenging object you can find, balance it your body and take a picture, then post it on social media including the hashtags and challenging three friends to do the same. Alternatively, any time soon you could receive your nomination and get to show off your skills.
The Sound Pound credit unions will also be very active on social media over the month, sharing facts and statements about credit unions that you may have previously not known. Watch out for these and share them, you could be helping someone in need of credit find the cheapest and most sustainable option.
Happy balancing Greater Manchester!