CEO, James Berry, looks back on Bristol Credit Union's history.
On the 15th July 1999 Money-Go-Round, Bristol Inner City Credit Union, which later became Bristol Credit Union, was registered as a credit union and opened for business in Bristol.
I well remember the first time I approached the credit union as a volunteer whilst working in a large bank. I was surprised (to say the least) that the two PCs didn’t talk to each other, that the banking was processed once a week (but not if the worker was on holiday) and I did wonder where all the 0s were on the balance sheet… I was member number 267, back in 2003.
Now serving over 13,000 members and looking after nearly £9m in local people’s assets we’ve come a long way. The credit union was started to provide services for people who were at best poorly served by mainstream banking and who were otherwise borrowing from high cost lenders and worse.
Among the band of highly committed volunteers who dedicated so much time to get things going there was also a desire to create a truly locally owned and accountable #mutual bank.
Some initial funding meant a worker could be employed to develop the credit union and provide a more regular service to its members. That initial employee, Kate Hanks, is still with the credit union today.
Since 1999 we’ve made over £30m of affordable loans available, having approved over 43,000 applications, and saving an incredible £17.4m in interest for members compared to the alternatives. With over £7.5m in savers’ deposits we’ve helped thousands develop a saving habit for the first time, as well as working with over 1,200 children and young people to help them learn about money management and savings.
Whether it’s been the move out of our cubby-hole office in Old Market to the branch on Cheltenham Road (and, later, 5 years working in the basement), our expansion to cover the whole of the former Avon county, purchasing our HQ building in 2012 (a repossession which has doubled in value and saved us thousands in rent), and doing so much more to help people of all backgrounds (whether homelessness prevention or investing in community energy) it is incredible what the credit union’s members have collectively achieved.
A huge thank you as we hit 20 to each and every one of them, and particularly to those members who’ve given even more of their time, efforts and energy as volunteers, as well as to the team of employees who go above-and-beyond every single day.
I’m humbled every day by their efforts and so proud to be a part of this amazing Bristol and Bath success story.
Here’s to the next 20 years!
CEO, Bristol Credit Union