Southwark Credit Union held it's 25th anniversary celebration on the 15th November 2007 in the presence of distinguished guests, members who has been with the credit union over the past 25 years, it's Management Committee and staff at the House of Parliament.
The Rt. Hon Harriet Harman QC MP launched today in the House of Commons a new research report into the development of Southwark Credit Union Ltd., London, over the last 25 years. Written by the Research Unit for Financial Inclusion at Liverpool John Moores University the report explores the growth and transformation of Southwark Credit Union since it was established for the council workforce in 1982.
Row 1 - Harriet Harman QC MP, Minister of State for Equalities, Leader of the House of House of Commons and the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Roy McLeod Director/ Treasurer, Ann Brewster President of SCU, Rt. Hon. James Plaskitt MP, Parliamentary under secretary for the DWP and Simon Hughes MP Chair of the Liberal Democrat party.
Row 2 - Mark Lyonette, CEO of ABCUL and Paul Jones - Liverpool John Mooers University
Row 3 - Jenna Eastlake, Senior Financial Inclusion Manager, Barclays Corporate Affairs and Brian Pomeroy CBE, Chairman of the Financial Inclusion Task Force
Southwark Credit Union is one of the leading credit unions in the country. It opened it doors to the entire community in 1999 and now serves over 7,000 members in the London Borough of Southwark. It takes a lead in the delivery of financial services to people on low incomes and who otherwise face financial exclusion. In 2006, Southwark Credit Union was the first credit union in the country to sign the Department of Work and Pensions contract to deliver the Financial Inclusion Fund Growth Fund loans.
James Plaskett MP, Parliamentary under Secretary of State, speaking at the launch, said of Southwark Credit Union, "Working with my Department through the Growth Fund, your staff have made over 2,000 loans totalling over £1.2 million. This has saved at least £600,000 in interest charges for your financially excluded customers compared to the cost of borrowing from a high cost doorstep lender".
The research report highlights how Southwark Credit Union, established by a small group of volunteers, had to learn some hard lessons about good governance, financial management, sound decision making and of product development in order to succeed and to become the sound financial institution it is today. Supporting the scaling up of credit unions is central to the Government's strategic plan to tackle financial exclusion (HM Treasury. Financial Inclusion: The Way Forward March 2007). In researching the history and development of Southwark Credit Union, the aim is to enable credit unions throughout the country to learn from Southwark's experience and develop and safe and sound financial institutions.
At the launch, Harriet Harman QC MP said, "Growing and establishing the credit union as a quality organisation has not been easy. Over the years, there have been many challenges, set backs and hurdles to surmount. But in each decade, committed volunteers and staff members have worked tirelessly to make sure the credit union succeeded and went forward".
At a time when consumer debt is currently at an all time high, the authors of the report are reassured to discover that credit unions, such as Southwark, are committed to offering people on low incomes a pathway to financial inclusion.
This new report, The Development of Southwark Credit Union 1982 - 2007, written by Paul A Jones and O. Sallyanne Decker of the Liverpool John Moores University and supported by Barclays expands the understanding of effective credit union management.
Jenna Eastlake, Senior Financial Inclusion Manager at Barclays stressed, "Barclays is committed to tackling financial exclusion and recognises that credit unions have an important role to play in creating a more inclusive financial system. However, if credit unions are to make a real impact, the sector needs to work together to continue to grow in strength and professionalism. It is important that credit unions learn from one another, which is the reason why Barclays has supported this research into the history and evelopment of Southwark Credit Union. It provides some true insights into the challenges Southwark Credit Union has faced in becoming a quality and professional organisation".
Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London wrote to mark the 25th anniversary and the launch of the report, "I would like to congratulate the credit union for their work over the past 25 years and the benefits they have brought to the people of Southwark. I wish them every success for many more years to come."