2015 News

Credit union membership reaches 1.1 million

Britain’s credit union movement has passed a new milestone, with 1.1 million adults now registered as members.

The latest figures, published by the Bank of England, show that in June 2015, adult membership of credit unions in England, Scotland and Wales reached 1,107,462 – an increase of 3.2% from the previous quarter. We’re pleased to report that, over the last year (October 2014 - September 2015) the membership of Essex Savers Credit Union has grown by 11%.

An attractive young woman working on a laptop and giving a thumbs-up sign, seen through an upwards-slanting graphSavings in British credit unions were up 3.5% over the quarter to £1.13 billion, with lending up by 2.9% to more than £720 million. The movement’s assets grew by 3.4% to more than £1.32 billion.

With a further 130,659 junior savers signed up with credit unions – many through school partnerships – this means almost 1.24 million people across Britain are now using credit unions.

In fact, these new figures show that between April and June this year, an average of 376 adults joined a credit union in Britain every day.

Alison Davies, President of Essex Savers, said: “It is good to see that credit unions across Britain are continuing to grow, offering more services to more people. Essex Savers net Credit Union is helping to lead the way as we expand to serve a growing number of members throughout Essex.”

To join us simply complete our membership form, which you can download by clicking here, and send it to our Head Office or take it to one of our Service Points.

Stop loan sharks

Just like every other credit union, Essex Savers is committed to doing all it can to help those that have fallen into the clutches of an illegal money lender (also known as a loan shark).

If you, or anyone you know, can answer yes to any of the questions listed below, it’s likely you have borrowed from a loan shark:

  • Have you been offered a cash loan?
  • Have you taken a cash loan but weren’t given any paperwork?
  • Have you been threatened when you couldn’t pay?
  • Has your bank card been taken from you as a security?
  • Does what you owe keep growing even though you are making payments?

A brick wall with colourful graffiti urging people to stop loan sharks For anyone impacted by the activities of a loan shark, there is help available. And the best place to get this help is by contacting - in complete confidence - the Illegal Money Lending Team (“IMLT”).

A loan shark is someone who lends money without the correct permissions. These permissions are granted by the Financial Conduct Authority. Just to be clear, borrowing from an illegal money lender does not mean that you have broken the law. It is the lender who has done this.

Loan sharks rarely, if ever, give any paperwork and if payments are missed they often use intimidation and violence to get money from their “clients”.

The Illegal Money Lending Team is there to help. If you have any information, however small, on loan shark activities they can help and are waiting to hear from you now.

The IMLT can be contacted (in complete confidence) 24 hours a day, seven days a week:

For more information visit this website: www.birmingham.gov.uk/stoploansharks.

We need volunteers in Harwich

A seaside townUntil recently our service point in Barclays Bank in Harwich was open for two hours every Tuesday. Unfortunately the volunteer staffing the service point is unable to continue and we have therefore had to close it temporarily.

So we are now looking for one or more volunteers to reopen it on Tuesdays or some other day of the week. Is this something you could do for us? You would be making a real difference to people in the area who might otherwise find it difficult to manage their finances effectively. If you think you can help us, please download our “I’m interested in volunteering” form by clicking here, complete it and send it to our Head Office in Chelmsford.

Engage - the ethical account that rewards you

By now, if you’re a member with a credEcard VISA debit card you will have been upgraded to the new Engage Classic card.

All of your information and the way that you use the card remains the same. You will still have the same convenience that a VISA debit card provides. An Engage debit cardPlus, the certainty of knowing that, because Engage is a prepaid card, you can't accidentally overspend. Added to this are competitions, offers and a number of new Cashback partners.

Full details of the new Engage Classic card will be added to our website shortly. Until then just click here for an overview of what the new Engage card has to offer.

This is an exciting development for our members and an excellent improvement to the services we provide.

To sign up for the new Engage Clasic card, just complete the application form - which you can download by clicking here.

More information on The Hub

Three people in shopping mall holding up signs publicising The Hub
The photograph shows Mick Davey of Essex Savers, Lorraine Goldsmith of the Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and Steve Turner of South Essex Homes outside The Hub in the Victoria Shopping Centre, Southend. As well as Essex Savers, The Hub accommodates South Essex Homes and the Citizens Advice Bureau. Healthwatch Essex is expected to join us shortly.

We are grateful to the Southend-on-Sea Borough Council for permission to use the following article about The Hub, which first appeared in the Summer 2015 issue of the Council's magazine Outlook.

Residents can now access confidential advice and support in the community, thanks to the opening of The Hub in the Victoria Shopping Centre.

The Council and voluntary sector teamed up to transform a first floor store with help from a number of partners including South Essex Homes, the CAB, Essex Savers and local social enterprise the Cultural Engine.

The welcoming facility is open from 10am to 4.30pm every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. On Tuesdays a "Digital Housing Hub" gives people access to computers and the internet where they can register to vote, write a CV and search for jobs with support from volunteers.

On Wednesdays, staff from Essex Savers can advise on personal finance, money problems, loans and savings, and on Thursdays, staff from the Citizens Advice Bureau are available to help with benefitsand understanding Universal Credit.

South Essex Homes resident Natalie Alves, who visited The Hub, said: "The Hub seems like a really good idea to offer and advice in the centre of Southend as people pass when they are doing their shopping.

"I have received on the spot housing advice today from South Essex Homes which has been really helpful."

For further information, please contact 01702 469212.

The Hub is also being used as a focal point for other initiatives. These include promoting Southend Energy, which can offer Southend residents better deals on their energy costs, and a presentation by the Illegal Money Lending Team to highlight their "Stop Loan Sharks" project.

So, if you’re in Southend on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, why not come along and find out more?

Everything we do, we do for you

A montage of male and female facesAs a not-for-profit organisation, our entire focus is on doing the best we can for you (our members). And, as you can see from our Members' stories page, it looks like we're doing a good job. However, the more feedback we get, the more we can understand and try to improve.

So, if you have a story to tell, we'd love to hear from you. And it's easy to do. Just click here and fill out the online form.

Alison Davies
Essex Savers net Credit Union Limited

We will not use your real name in anything we publish.

Our Facebook and Twitter pages relaunched

To ensure anyone can access Essex Savers news and information, from as many sources as possible, we are relaunching our Facebook and Twitter pages.

So, if you agree with what we stand for, namely Local Ethical Banking, please "Like" our Facebook page and "Follow" us on Twitter. If you could also "Share" our pages with your family, friends and work colleagues that would be fantastic too.

We open another service point in Southend

A wooden sign post pointing to SouthendWe have just opened a third service point in Southend, in the Community Hub in The Victoria Shopping Centre. Our thanks to all those people, particularly our volunteers, who have made it possible.

We shall be in the Hub on Wednesday, 17th June, and every Wednesday after that, from 10 am until 5 pm. Other groups will use the Hub at other times in the week.

The Victoria claims to attract over 125,000 visitors every week, so we could be busy; you are still assured of a warm welcome. If you are there on other days of the week, why not pop in and see what the other community organisations have to offer?

Website relaunched

If you have visited our site before you will see that we have given it a general make-over. We have tried to make the pages easier to find and more user-friendly:

  • The home page has been completely revamped and now includes a rolling news-feed.A picture of the home page of this website
  • We now have short and long versions of the menu. Just click the yellow button at the bottom to switch between the two.
  • There is a new Service Points page, which not only lists all our service points but also shows separately those open today and those open tomorrow. Click on a service point name to see a map and details of the address and opening times.
  • We have a more flexible and interactive loan calcluator.
  • News stories will remain available for longer.
  • All our documents and forms can now be downloaded directly from dedicated pages.
  • Our list of useful links has been expanded and given a page of its own.

We still have some work to do to make the site easier to use on tablet computers and smartphones. In the meantime, if you have any comments you can send them to us by clicking the "Email us" button on the left. We welcome your feedback.

And don't forget to "like" us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Click the links at the top of this page.

More service points opened

An aerial photograph of a town on an estuaryThanks to our friends at Barclays Bank we now have service points in Burnham on Crouch, Corringham and Maldon.

We are still looking for more volunteers so we can open service points in Colchester, Great Baddow, Lakeside, Thorpe Bay and Westcliff. If you live near any of these areas and can spare a few hours a week do get in contact.

Grant from Chelmsford City Council

A very big thank you to Chelmsford City Council!

Chelmsford City Council's coat of armsDuring our AGM on Friday, we heard that

"The City Council is delighted to be able to provide some financial support to Essex Savers. The Council recognises the excellent work that the Credit Union does on behalf of its residents particularly during these time of austerity and hopes that the existence of the Credit Union will enable residents to steer themselves away from more expensive forms of borrowing."

This is brilliant news, which will help us continue supporting the people of Essex. If you know anyone involved with any of the other councils in Essex please feel free to encourage them to do the same.

We report on our 2015 AGM

We held our AGM on the evening of 27 February. As usual, it took place in the delightful surroundings of the Chelmsford Diocesan Office in Chelmsford, which is right next to our own head office in New Street. The evening started with a reception for members.

A group of people preparing for a formal meetingAt 7 o'clock we assembled in the board room where, after a welcome by our President, Alison Davies, Councillor Roy Whitehead, the Leader of Chelmsford City Council, gave the opening address. Alison then spoke about developments during 2014. Chris Lindsey, another of our director, talked about Essex Saver's plans for the future and Mick Davey and Keith Otter showed the preliminary design for our revamped website. (The website has not yet been revamped but keep watching this space.)

In introducing the board's report for the year, Alison highlighted the pleasing growth in membership and our links with organisations such as Barclays Bank plc, UNISON, the Citizens Advice Bureau and Job Centre Plus. The amount lent by Essex Savers since its foundation at the start of the century has now reached nearly £5,000,000.

The accounts showed encouraging progress had been made financially; it was expected that Essex Savers would move into the black during 2015. There had been increases in members' shares and income from loan interest during 2013-14 but a reduction in grants received.

The retiring directors, Alison Davies and Brian Goldsmith, were re-elected and the members approved the appointments of Hazel Stothard, Alan Mint and Jonathan Pringle, who had been appoined directors during the year. Appleby & Wood were re-elected as auditors.

Head office opening an extra day per week

A large traditional churchAs many of you will know, our head office is opposite Chelmsford Cathedral, at 53 New Street. Our other neighbours in New Street include the Diocesan Office, Chelmsford Police Station and the Magistrates' and Crown Courts. Shire Hall is on the corner with the High Street.

53 New Street does not only act as our head office. It also houses one of our major service points. For some time it has been open from 11 am to 5 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays and 11 am to 7 pm on Wednesdays. Starting next month it will also be open on Fridays from 11 am to 2 pm.

For the opening times of our other service points around Essex click here.

Two service points change opening hours

A dark red roseOur service point in Billericay Library will now be open on Thursdays from 10 am to 12.30 pm. The service point in Chelmsford Library will also be open on Thursdays, from 11 am until noon. We are grateful to Essex Libraries for hosting these service points.

We need a number of things in order to open service points. One is, of course, a venue. The other is a suitable number of volunteers prepared to give up some of their time to staff them. If you don't yet have a service point in your area, how about speaking to us to discuss the possibility of joining with others to open one? If you do have a service point in your area and would like to help run it, get in contact. We would love to hear from you.