Norwich credit union lends �1m to beat loan sharks

Kate ScotterMore than �1m has been issued to struggling families in a part of Norwich as a credit union helps save people from falling prey to loan sharks.Kate Scotter

More than �1m has been issued to struggling families in a part of Norwich as a credit union helps save people from falling prey to loan sharks.

The West Norwich Credit Union has launched a new collection point in Bowthorpe to help its members who struggle to get to its West Earlham base.

The company, set up in 1992, is a local savings and loan organisation.

With people finding it increasingly difficult to persuade backs to provide them with loans, the credit union offers straightforward savings accounts and affordable loans to its members.

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The West Norwich Credit Union is one of four in the city.

Ian Leather, president of the West Norwich Credit Union, said: 'A lot of people suffer in terms of trying to open accounts, even basic bank accounts, so they prefer to come to us because it's convenient. We're trying to help people break that habit of getting loans without really understanding what they are getting into.

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'People can open an account with the credit union and also get help and advice from the Norwich Money Advice and Budgeting Service - it's a holistic package.'

He said it was difficult to quantify how many people have been helped through the credit union, but estimated that more than �1m has been issued since the organisation started 18 years ago.

The Norwich Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) sits alongside the West Norwich Credit Union which is based at the West Earlham Centre.

Norwich MABS is a free, independent and confidential organisation dedicated to helping people in the city manage their money.

A 73-year-old woman from Marlpit, who did not want to be named and has been a credit union member for 20 years, said: 'I wouldn't be where I am now if it wasn't for the credit union. It helps me to save up and I belong to the Christmas club.'

MABS and West Norwich Credit Union will be in Bowthorpe Church in Hall Road on the fourth Tuesday of every month from 10am until midday. The next session will be on July 27.

Call 01603 506500 to make an appointment or visit the office.

Has a credit union helped you with your finances? Or have you fallen victim to loan sharks? Call reporter Kate Scotter on 01603 772326 or email

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