Jubilee Tower Credit Union
Jubilee Tower Credit Union (JTCU) is a heart-warming story that shows the impact co‑operatives can have on local communities,and the chair of JTCU Janice Parker, believes its success comes down to identifying and meeting the needs of the business on a regular basis.
The Co-operative Enterprise Hub provided advice to the credit union after it identified a need for a financial review, and Gareth Nash of Co-operative Mutual Solutions supported JTCU in assessing its financial situation and developing an action plan for the future.
JTCU was established in 1996 by the community residents group of Darwen, Lancashire, as a savings and loan co‑operative, with the underlying aim of dealing with social exclusion. Many of the savers and lenders of the credit union receive one or more benefits, and due to their financial situation often find it difficult to open standard bank accounts. Janice explains:
"We offer our customers savings accounts and loans that are tailored to the individuals' needs, which is something other lenders are unable to do. JTCU understands the demographic of its customer base, and offers a number of ancillary services such as paying in benefits or wages, or even transferring housing benefits from savings accounts direct to landlords. It is an extremely personal service that we offer, and we aim to make money management as easy as possible for our customers."
"We work closely with the local borough council and children's centres throughout the region to target groups of people from socially deprived areas who are looking for an opportunity to save a little bit of their income or borrow money from a reliable and trusted source."
JTCU not only offers financial services to the residents of Darwen and Blackburn, but also gives local people the opportunity to gain valuable work experience and training. Janice believes that the success of the co-operative enterprise boils down to having the drive and ambition to reach its goals, but most importantly, asking for help. She said:
"All organisations need to assess their situation at regular points of their business development,and they shouldn't be afraid to seek help from wherever they can. We are extremely visionary, and very open to the ideas offered by external companies. The Co‑operative Enterprise Hub for example, provided us with an outstanding level of service at a crucial time in our business development, and with its guidance, JTCU has gone from strength to strength. There are many businesses that are too proud to ask for help and although JTCU is a very independent organisation, we are keen to seek ways to improve our services."
Timeline - Jubilee Tower Credit Union
- 1994 - Initial idea by local MP to set up a credit union for the residents of Darwen
- 1996 - Community residents group in Darwen set up JTCU
- 2004 - JTCU expands its services to include residents of Blackburn, Lancashire
- 2009 - JTCU now employs three full-time staff and over 30 volunteers
- 2010 - JTCU is planning to move to larger premises
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