The modern Credit Union movement traces its origins to Germany and to Friedrich Willhelm Raiffeisen, the Mayor of a small town in southern Germany, who in 1849 formed societies, which later evolved in to Credit Unions.
The purposes of these Credit Unions was to enable people to help themselves in relieving debt and poverty.
A Credit Union is a democratic, financial co-operative owned and controlled by its own members. Each Credit Union is run only to benefit its members, all of whom have something in common - the common bond.
The credit union movement was introduced into Great Britain in the 1960s and 1970s, primarily by groups from other countries such as Ireland or the Caribbean countries who found it hard to get banking services except by organising them themselves.
Since then, the credit union philosophy of mutual self-help has proved very popular, with credit unions having a legal form following the passage of the 1979 Credit Union Act, and continuing to grow at an increasing rate since then. There are over 450 credit unions throughout the country.
In Great Britain over a million members and young savers have recognized the value of credit unions, and have savings approaching a billion pounds with their credit unions. There are thousands employed in the sector and many more thousands are volunteers involved in the movement.
You might not have heard of credit unions before but in many parts of the world, including Ireland, the USA and New Zealand, they are very important and successful financial institutions.
Credit unions exist solely to provide affordable financial services to their members. In our case we offer savings, loans and a whole range of other financial services.
We are run by our members, for our members. Our range of innovative financial products includes ethical savings, affordable loans, Christmas club accounts and money guidance sessions to name but a few. All these services are supported by the excellent service of a dedicated, well-trained staff.
Credit Unions around the world
There are over 51,000 credit unions with over 196 million members in 100 different countries around the world.
The credit union concept - delivering financial services for member-benefit and not for private profit has proven itself over more than 100 years, in many different places and economic circumstances.