The following post was provided by the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU), World Council's direct member association in Ireland.
Credit unions around Ireland are doing everything they can to support members during COVID-19, especially those most vulnerable.
One in particular is Core Credit Union, with offices in in Dalkey, Sallynoggin, Shankill, Ballybrack, Foxrock, Carrickbrennan and Dún Laoghaire. Their cash delivery service allows vulnerable members to access money while cocooning. The service, one of many supports implemented by the credit union in recent weeks, is supported by local Gardai and allows withdrawals of up to €200 per visit.
Vulnerable members may also choose to appoint a designated authority to make small cash withdrawals on their behalf.
Core Credit Union CEO Michael Byrne acknowledged that many of Core’s members fall within a vulnerable category and heavily rely on the credit union to access cash.
"They really do depend on us. For some, the only way they can access their savings, payments or pension is by using our cocooning service, as we are the only financial institution they interact with," said Byrne. "Since launching these initiatives, we’ve had hugely positive feedback from the community. At the moment, we’re doing everything we can to support members and reaching out to as many as possible by email or phone to inform them of all the services available."
Core is also reassuring members that, when needed, they can apply for temporary loan repayment holidays or repayment reductions.
"If we speak to a concerned member about their situation and the repayment holiday or reduction is approved, we will ensure changes are put in place right away. Members can also apply for longer-term relief if need be, by supplying documentation. We are also aware of moneylenders continuing to target people in our local community in recent times. If our members find themselves in financial difficulty, we would ask that they speak with us first," said Byrne.
Members will not see any negative impact on their credit record for any COVID-related payment break. They can call the credit union or apply online for help.
Waiving and donation of fees
Core Credit Union has said it will waive first quarter fees for current account holders and have appealed to all members whose income has not been affected by COVID-19 to donate to a COVID donation account (IBAN: IE94 SBDC 991 045 029 586 16).
Funds received into this account will be donated to local community volunteers across the seven locations Core serves.
The credit union has also lifted restrictions on savings, allowing members to now access savings online.
"We know that members use our credit union as a secure place to keep their savings and don’t necessarily want the ability to dip into them easily," said Byrne. "Although we usually have restrictions when it comes to accessing savings online, we’ve lifted these."
The credit union has seen a surge in members using online services.
"We’d encourage members to keep transacting over the phone and online where possible," said Byrne.