Oxford Credit Union (as it then was) was formed as a cooperative – owned by its members. It was established in 2005 and opened its doors on 30th January 2006.
The credit union was the work of a group of volunteers who wanted to create an alternative to the predatory lenders who target individuals with high-cost loans and banks who typically don’t lend smaller sums. Our financial model is simple: our members save with us and we use those savings to provide loans to our members. We are transparent, we aim to manage our services in an ethical way and we are owned by our members. We think this is a model that should be more common in the UK.Our credit union has grown steadily – from £72,000 in total assets in 2007 to £372,000 in 2013. Initially open to people living and working in Oxford itself, we were generously supported by both Oxford City Council and the Tudor Trust. We have gradually developed our services. In 2011 we introduced our pre-pay Debit card, which meant people could draw out their savings from a cash point rather than coming into the office.
In 2012 we extended our ‘common bond’ to cover the whole of Oxfordshire and in 2013 we started working with the Oxfordshire Rural Community Council to allow people without existing savings to participate in their fuel buying scheme.
In the same year we established a partnership with Soha Housing, allowing their tenants, leaseholders and employees to easily join our credit union. In 2014 we started working with four other credit unions to manage our administration and back office services through a workers’ cooperative. This allowed us to reduce our running costs and significantly expand our opening hours. Employees of Oxford City, and of South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse Councils can save with us by payroll deduction. We hope to extend this system to other employers in the near future. In September 2014 the lease on our Temple Cowley office ended and we moved to to the Old Music Hall on Cowley Road in Oxford, where we are also able to see members face to face. Our plans include opening more outlets, including temporary ones, at locations around Oxfordshire such as Didcot and Witney.
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