WOCCU Makes Pilgrimage to Rochdale, Home of Cooperative Founders

April 07, 2004

Madison, WI—During their March visit to the U.K., World Council of Credit Unions' Chairman, L. R. (Bobby) McVeigh and WOCCU's President and CEO, Arthur Arnold made a pilgrimage to Rochdale, home of the first cooperative society. While in Rochdale—which is in Lancaster County, England— they took an extensive tour of the Rochdale Pioneers Museum and also received a welcome from the Lord Mayor, Mr. Sultan Ali, at town hall.

Accompanied by museum warden Dorothy Greaves and Mr. Malcolm Price, McVeigh and Arnold viewed documents and pictures of the first-ever cooperative society, founded in 1844 by 15 merchants in order to provide local workers with affordable food. This original cooperative inspired a number of mid-18th century co- operative societies. These societies centered on farmers and their communities, were bound by common interests, led by volunteer officers and were rooted in a philosophy of self-help. They were the forerunners of the late 19th-century, cooperative movement that spread to urban Germany, resulting in the foundation of the first true credit unions. Credit unions were soon established on the other side of the Atlantic in the early 1900's, first in Quebec, Canada and later in the United States following the model set by their European counterparts.

Following their museum visit, McVeigh, Arnold and the Lord Mayor, met with local leaders at town hall where John Wilson, General Manager and Members of the Board of the local credit union, Streetcred in Rochdale, highlighted its upcoming expansion. Since Rochdale is the birthplace of the Co-operative movement, it is appropriate that the first Metropolitan Borough wide Credit union in the country should be set up there. Streetcred Credit Union is a community based financial co- operative controlled by a voluntary board of directors and serves all who live or work within the Metropolitan Borough of Rochdale.

World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development agency for credit unions. World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions' financial performance and increase their outreach.

World Council has implemented 300+ technical assistance programs in 89 countries. Worldwide, 68,882 credit unions in 109 countries serve 235 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at