Union lifeline out of the debt mire

nrhn 100211 Erewash credit union opens in Amber Valley at Amber Valley CVS Market Place Ripley.
nrhn 100211 Erewash credit union opens in Amber Valley at Amber Valley CVS Market Place Ripley.

Austere times may call for desperate measures as people struggle to keep their heads above water.

Loans, mortgages and credit cards with ever increasing interest rates can help you get where, and what, you want, but all too many have found themselves anchored to a schedule of payments they simply cannot keep up with.

And for others simply getting approved for borrowing on the high street is a near impossible without a good credit history.

National figures show that in 2010, 135,089 people were declared insolvent, the highest figure since records began in 1960.

It might be no surprise that people such as Michael Jenner, a 28-year-old from Amber Valley, have fallen prey to loan sharks, with their enticing early offers soon to be replaced by bullying tactics.

“I have had doorstep lenders before and they put me in a worse position than I was in the first place, said Michael, “They can be very intimidating and the repayments are always higher.

“Once they have given you money and they want it back, their attitude changes.

“Once I was just in my kitchen and the loan shark walked straight into my house, I was a bit stunned really.

“I would not recommend it to anyone.”

Now for many such people with nowhere to turn when it comes finances there is help at hand in Amber Valley as the Erewash Credit Union has widened its borders to serve people in the borough.

Previously only having a base in Ilkeston, the union has established a presence at Amber Valley Community Volunteering Services (CVS) offices at the Market Place in Ripley and is now opening up its membership to people across Amber Valley.

The union operates like a bank, only it does not make any profit, offering affordable loans to people who may have been refused elsewhere, as well giving people advice about how to keep their accounts in good check.

Marietta Farnsworth, union development officer based at the Ripley office has spent three years trying to get a union established in Amber Valley.

Thanks to a cash injection from Amber Valley Housing Limited and help from the volunteers at Amber Valley CVS, the office opened its doors officially on Thursday, February 3.

“Debt can be really debilitating,” Marietta said, “and it can be very difficult to get out of.

“Here we really try and be friendly, we are the people next door that you can talk to, which you cannot just do at a bank.”

Chief executive of Amber Valley CVS, Lynn Allison was there on the opening day to welcome Amber Valley’s union.

She said: “I think there are a lot of doorstep lenders still and a lot of families where saving isn’t their first priority. With the union you can save at the same time as paying back your loan, it is a really crucial service.”

For more information contact the union on 01773 512076.