New bank will help you make ends meet

VICTIMS of the credit crunch have been thrown a financial lifeline by a bank with a difference which opened in Diss yesterday. The Diss Community Bank is the latest branch to be opened by Norfolk Credit Union - a co-operative owned by its members and managed on their behalf by trained volunteers.

VICTIMS of the credit crunch have been thrown a financial lifeline by a bank with a difference which opened in Diss yesterday.

The Diss Community Bank is the latest branch to be opened by Norfolk Credit Union - a co-operative owned by its members and managed on their behalf by trained volunteers. Its purpose is to bring relief to residents struggling to make ends meet in the current economic climate.

The bank will offer people living in the town and surrounding area the chance to take out small low-cost loans and make “simple savings.” More branches are planned across the county.

“The credit crunch is driving more people to the expensive doorstep lenders whose interest rates are often at least 185pc APR compared to the credit unions' typical rate of only 12.68pc,” said Alan Squirrell, president of Norfolk Credit Union.


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“We believe very high interest rates are unacceptable and want to offer the people of Norfolk an alternative low cost loans service and also to promote the benefits of savings, no matter how small. We also need people to save with us.

“The money saved in the community is used in the community for loans, and nothing is lost to outside remote shareholders. Any profits made are returned to the members in the community as a dividend.”

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The Diss bank will initially open from 11am to 1pm on Wednesdays, at the Cittaslow Centre, Cobbs Yard, St Nicholas Street, and from 10am-noon on Fridays at the United Reformed Church room in Mere Street.

Tony Palmer, chairman of Diss Cittaslow Committee, said: “The credit union offers a safe means for people to save and borrow money and we are very pleased to help with that.” The group gave a £2,000 grant towards the setting-up costs.

Fellow district councillor, Eloise Ellis, also welcomed the initiative. “A credit union is a great scheme and it will be a good thing for the people of Diss,” she said.

There are currently eight branches in the area - the initiative having started in south Norfolk in 2002. Consent was obtained last year for the non-for-profit organisation to expand to cover the rest of the county to meet a local demand for its services. New outlets will soon be opening at Dereham and Stalham, with plans to roll out the scheme across Broadland, and the rest of Norfolk in due course.

The credit union also offers a young saver's account for those up to 16 years to encourage the habit of saving in young people, and special lock-in accounts for members to save for Christmas, holidays and other occasions - locking the money away until just before it is needed.

For more details call Norfolk Credit Union on 01508 533842, email info@norfolkcu.co.uk or visit the website www.norfolkcu.co.uk

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