With the support of the Development Officer, the Barrow & District Study Group was launched at a public meeting in October 2010. All members of the Study Group were volunteers and included elected members from the County and local councils, the NHS, local clergy and other residents from a variety of backgrounds and communities throughout the area.
Their remit was to demonstrate the level of need, support and demand for a credit union within the Borough of Barrow in Furness and to make the business case for setting one up. In the first three months, they adopted a constitution, opened a bank account and obtained approval from the Financial Services Authority (FSA) to use the words ‘credit union’ in the Study Group’s title.
The next few months were spent recruiting new members to the Study Group and raising public awareness of the plans for and the benefits of a credit union. This was achieved through a public pledge campaign to evidence demand, setting up a website and making presentations to numerous groups and organisations throughout the Borough. Around 30,000 pledge leaflets and forms were delivered to households throughout the community between September 2011 and February 2012 and by the end of October over 500 pledges of support for the new credit union had been received.
During this time, members of the Study Group also spent many, many hours developing a fully costed business plan, as well as the successful submission of grant applications totalling just under £200,000 to help with the operation of the new Credit Union. With funding in place and the business plan developed, the application for authorisation was submitted to the FSA in May 2012. After many frustrating months of consultation with the FSA, approval was given to operate as a credit union in January 2013 and Barrow & District Credit Union was established at last!
Our office in Barrow in Furness opened on 22 February 2013 and interest in and support from the local community was outstanding with 100 people joining in the first few weeks. There was also a great deal of interest from the areas outside the Borough and, because the South Lakeland Credit Union had not then been set up, we received approval to extend our Common Bond to cover the areas from just outside Barrow and along to Grange. We have continued to grow from strength to strength and we now have around 1,000 members.
A new partnership of First Rate Credit Union and Barrow and District Credit Union began operating from the same premises at The Mall, in Barrow from March 2016. BDCU has been running for three years, while FRCU has been operating within BAE Systems and its predecessor companies for 34 years.The partnership aims to raise awareness of both credit unions and increase membership. While FRCU is owned and run by current and retired members of BAE Systems, BDCU serves those living and working in the wider Furness area.
The credit union was founded in 1989 as the Erdington and District Credit Union Ltd. In 2004, they became the North Birmingham Community Credit Union Ltd (NBCCU), merging credit unions in Erdington, Sutton Coldfield, Castle Vale and Kingstanding, before incorporating Saltley District in 2007.
April 2013 saw the name changed to Advance Credit Union Ltd to better reflect the growth and outlook of the credit union. Membership continued to grow, reaching over 4,000 adults and 400 juniors. In the last decade, assets have grown in excess of £1.8 million with more than £2m lent each year. The head office is based in Erdington, with community-based collection points throughout the region operated by volunteers and partner organisations.
Want to find out more?
Visit the Barrow & District CU website, or get in touch with their team:
Telephone – 01229 870110
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
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