Bristol Credit Union is celebrating its 20th anniversary - having provided over £30m in affordable loans since being registered on 15 July 1999.
Based in Stokes Croft, the Co-operatives UK member was started by volunteers in east Bristol to provide services for people who couldn’t access bank accounts or borrow on the high street.
Over the last 20 years the credit union - one of the largest in the country - has more than 14,000 members who have saved up to £17.4 million in interest compared to alternative, often high cost, lenders.
"Our lending is now seen by many as a genuine alternative to the high street banks that keeps all the interest paid supporting our local area.” James Berry, Bristol Credit Union
James Berry, Bristol Credit Union Chief Executive, said: "It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come over the last 20 years by focusing on serving our members and our local communities instead of maximising profit at all costs. Some of the first volunteers are still around today, and I’m so pleased for them that their efforts have produced such a great local success story.”
"With nearly 700 local businesses, community groups and co-operatives as members we’re now able to put even more back into our local area and do more good stuff, like helping over 1,200 children save in their schools with our Money Munchers saving club. We’ve developed to serve people of every background and circumstance, and our lending is now seen by many as a genuine alternative to the high street banks that keeps all the interest paid supporting our local area.”
To mark the celebrations BCU are having a month of #20GoodThings, sharing and doing good around the Bristol and Bath area. These include weekly rewards for members, celebrating the pop-up branch service points in the local community as well as getting stuck in to clean and green up the local area.
Looking forward, Bristol Credit Union has secured significant investment for their future growth, with a £500k investment from Bristol City Council, and a further £475k of investments from charitable foundations and co-op lenders. These investments will allow BCU to triple in size over the next five years, helping increase presence in local communities around Bristol, improving online user experience and increasing the number of affordable loans they can make to people who need to borrow and want to choose a local, ethical, mutual service.
Berry added: "With our ambitious but realistic plans for growth which our investors have shown their confidence in by backing us we are looking forward to doing good with money for the next 20 years too – we can’t wait to work with thousands more local people and businesses."