Rugby Credit Union
You may have noticed the Rugby Credit Union office near the top of Albert Street and wondered what exactly a credit union does and how it all works.
To find out, we dropped in to meet office manager Ami Mistry and board member Laurie Bird.
Laurie was one of the founding trustees when Rugby Credit Union was set up in 2004. At this time, Rugby Council for Voluntary Service (now known as CAVA) decided there was a need for a credit union the town and Laurie was asked to help.
He explains how credit unions have their origins in the friendly society movement of the 1850s and how, after the Second World War, there was a resurgence of such principles when groups of working people formed financial associations to help avoid falling victim to loan sharks. Credit unions as we know them today are member-owned financial cooperatives. These types of organisation were first established in the 1960s.
Both Laurie and Ami are keen to correct the common misconception that credit unions are charities. “We aren’t really a charity because we don’t give anything away for free. We are a non-for-profit organisation”, explains Ami. “In legal terms we are classified the same as a building society and are fully FCA regulated”. Ami is currently the only employee, with the rest of the staff being volunteers.
“Credit Unions have to have what is called a common bond, something that qualifies people to be members which they all have in common”, explains Laurie. “In our case, membership is open to anyone who either lives or works in Warwickshire. Once someone becomes a member, they can stay for life, even if their circumstances change”.
Members are encouraged to save regularly, and those who show that they are sensible savers are more likely to be approved for a loan, possibly at preferential interest rates. The amount of credit the organisation gives out is limited, with loans usually being a few hundred pounds.
“Our service is available to people who otherwise might not be able to get a loan, due to poor credit history or low income”, says Ami. “The sort of things they need loans for tend to be unexpected emergencies: needing a new cooker or washing machine, car repairs, that sort of thing”.
For more information pop in or give them a call