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UK Credit Union Offers Program to Manage Financial Stress Caused by Pandemic

The following post is provided by the Association of British Credit Unions Ltd. (ABCUL), World Council's direct member organization in the United Kingdom.

Darlington Credit Union (DCU) has secured over £50,000 in funding from the UK's National Lottery Community Fund to offer a new program: You are not alone, Managing money together.

The program, part of the DCU's MoneySmart initiative, tackles problems with self-isolation, and job furloughs and layoffs caused by COVID-19, while providing vulnerable people and those new to the stresses of debt with a friendly voice and guide.

This includes a dedicated helpline, with video calling for those who prefer, and a responsive website with educational tools, self-directed training videos and progress reports.

The credit union, which has full-service functionality as well as additional support for those who need it, hopes progress reports will help people stay on track financially and ensure people understand what they are being taught.

"While credit unions were first set up to help the disenfranchised who struggled with normal banking and who cannot borrow money at decent rates, we are really modern. We have payroll services and saving schemes, including with Darlington Council," said Darlington Credit Union CEO Tony Brockley. "We lost the funding for MoneySmart last year and were looking to renew it, but everyone was looking for projects to help deal with the fallout of coronavirus, so we adapted our program to do that."

For example, where Darlington Credit Union would otherwise run workshops in small groups, this is now being done via online tutorials or one-to-one video sessions. It will also help guide vulnerable people through more than 20 online resources and training modules offered through the program.

Tony Brockley is also looking to expand the service into schools, so teens and young adults can understand different types of debt and their impacts.

The money management project is set to go live by September 1.