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Church acts on International Credit Union day

The Archbishop of Canterbury has joined Instagram with a message urging churches and communities to support their local credit union.

The message comes as bishops throughout England and Scotland mark International Credit Union Day (ICU Day, 17 Oct) by championing credit unions in their communities.  

Speaking ahead of ICU Day, Archbishop Justin Welby says in his first Instagram message: 'Let's begin to make a difference to how families can finance themselves in this country - join and support a credit union'. 

In a personal letter being sent to all clergy, Archbishop Justin underlines this message saying that the one million families who take out payday loans every month can end up in a crippling spiral of debt.

'Our faith in Christ calls us to love the poor and vulnerable with our actions. That is why the Church must be actively involved in supporting the development of real lending alternatives, such as credit unions,' he says.

Churches round the country are supporting ICU Day, with bishops taking the lead signing up to and supporting local credit unions, including a community credit union pop-up session in London (see case studies below).

Revd Dr Malcolm Brown, director of the Church of England's Mission and Public Affairs Division said: 'The credit union sector is extremely well placed to offer real choice about how people manage their money. Credit unions aren't just for hard pressed communities - all sorts of people could use credit unions to save and to take out loans at manageable interest rates. Archbishop Justin is calling on churches all over the country to work with their local credit unions - and the Church of England is working with the Church of Scotland so that our response runs, literally, from Lands End to John O'Groats.'

'We welcome the continuing support of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Church of England for credit unions. With the wide community reach of the organisation, and the skills within its congregations, the Church can help raise awareness of the benefits of credit unions and help them to grow.'

Mark Lyonette, Chief Executive of the Association of British Credit Unions (ABCUL), said: 'We welcome the continuing support of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Church of England for credit unions. With the wide community reach of the organisation, and the skills within its congregations, the Church can help raise awareness of the benefits of credit unions and help them to grow.'

Barbara Hann, Chief Executive of ACE Credit Union Services, said: 'Over the years credit unions have often been described as the best kept secret, since so few people seem to have heard of them.  The Archbishop's intervention has overturned this, focussing everyone's attention on the important role of credit unions in society - they provide a caring financial service, with low charge, that benefits all levels of society. Churches can support local credit unions by encouraging people to open an account and to volunteer to help run one.'

Case studies:

a) Detailed:

Canterbury - the Bishop of Dover, Trevor Willmott, is hosting an event with Kent Savers CU, including launch of new community investment account and training of volunteers. For more information: http://www.canterburydiocese.org/news/2013/creditunionpresscall.pdf

Oxford - Three bishops will putting their money where their mouth is by investing in the Oxford Credit Union. The Bishop of Oxford, John Pritchard, the Bishop of Dorchester, Colin Fletcher and the Bishop of Buckingham, Alan Wilson will be signing on the dotted line on October 17. For more information: http://www.oxford.anglican.org/bishops-become-ethical-investors-international-credit-union-week/

Southwell & Nottingham - Southwell & Nottingham diocese is launching  '25 x 5k', an ethical saving initiative which allows organisations to join in local credit unions by opening a corporate savings account. The Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham will visit Nottingham Credit Union on the 17th to pay in a cheque for £5k, which is not a donation but capital to enable them to lend more in the future. Then later he is in Worksop at 2 Shires Credit Union showing support for the 25x5k campaign, by opening a 2 shires savings account with a further £5k.
http://southwell.anglican.org/bishop-to-open-diocesan-savings-account-with-10k-at-nottingham-credit-unions/

b) In brief, with further info/interviews available on request:

Birmingham - Bishop of Aston, Andrew Watson, is joining Citysave CU at the new Citysave kiosk in the Café of St Martin in the Bullring
Canterbury - Bishop of Dover, Trevor Willmott, is hosting an event with Kent Savers CU, including launch of new community investment account and training of volunteers
Chichester - Bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner, is hosting launch of West Sussex CU capital-raising appeal at end of month
Coventry - Bishop of Coventry, Christopher Cocksworth, to join Central CU
Durham - the new Bishop of Durham Designate recently underlined his commitment to the fight against poverty and he said that during his tenure he will support initiatives including food banks and credit unions.
Exeter: Bishop of Crediton, Nicholas McKinnel, did interview on credit unions on Radio Devon. All four Archdeacons are visiting local credit unions. Diocese is running awareness-raising sessions for clergy.
Guildford - Bishop of Dorking, Ian Brackley, visiting SurreySave
Hereford - Bishop of Ludlow, Alistair Magowan, visiting Sutton Hill CU, Telford
Lichfield: Bishop of Stafford, Geoff Annas, is opening new branch of Staffordshire CU. Diocese is convening regular meetings with local CUs.
London - Bishop of Kensington, Paul Williams, attending community pop-up session with clergy and Chief Exec of Your Credit Union. Bishop of Willesden, Pete Broadbent, joining CUBE (Brent & Ealing) alongside council leaders
Manchester - Bishop of Bolton, Christopher Edmondson,  joining Hoot CU
Oxford - Bishop of Oxford, John Pritchard and Bishop of Dorchester, Colin Fletcher joining Oxford CU
Ripon and Leeds - Bishop of Ripon & Leeds, John Packer, co-hosting an even wth Leeds CU in city centre for clergy and church members to sign up
St Albans - Bishop of Hertford, Paul Bayes visiting Hertsavers CU
Salisbury - Bishop of Salisbury, Nick Holtam, visiting South Wiltshire CU, Bishop of Ramsbury, Edward Condry, visiting West Wiltshire CU
Sheffield - Bishop of Doncaster, Peter Burrows, joining South Yorkshire CU
Southwark - Bishop of Southwark, Christopher Chessun, visiting London Mutual CU. Bishop of Kingston, Richard Cheetham, is launching SurreySave - London SW, and Bishop of Woolwich, Michael Ipgrave, is visiting Lewisham Plus CU and Greenwich & Bexley CU.
Southwell & Notts - Diocese launching own corporate savings scheme and relaunching 100 x 100 scheme
Worcester - the Diocese is opening a corporate account with Castle & Crystal CU.

Notes

1. More details on how churches can support their local credit union: www.churchofengland.org/creditunions
2. More information on International Credit Union Day: http://www.woccu.org/events/icuday
3. The @lambethpalace Instagram account was launched on Monday this week. The latest addition to Lambeth Palace's social media channels, the account will publish pictures of the Archbishop's ministry along with scenes of daily life and worship at Lambeth Palace. Managed by the press team at Lambeth Palace, the account will also feature video messages and prayers from Archbishop Justin, and will be used to document some of his UK and foreign visits. Follow the account here: http://instagram.com/lambethpalace. Watch the Archbishop's message on credit unions here: http://instagram.com/p/fhuLWztmlr/. Read more about Instagram here: http://instagram.com/about/faq/