The Pentecostal Credit Union (PCU), founded in 1980 by Rev Carmel Jones, will celebrate this landmark birthday on 6th June.
Rev Jones, a minister within the Church of God in Christ launched the PCU in 1980, initially operating from a room in Balham. It is now one of the 10 largest credit unions in the UK, with over 1,500 members and members’ savings at over £7.5 million.
Rev Jones started the PCU in order to overcome the obstacles black people faced trying to access financial services from leading institutions, and to fund their projects and business initiatives. He was inspired to set up the PCU after reading about credit unions in a newspaper article as they are non-profit organisations, set up by members with something in common who pool their resources by saving regularly. He thought a credit union would be perfect to meet black people’s needs, and decided to make membership open to people who practise the Pentecostal faith and their families. As news spread about the PCU’s financial services people approached them for loans to finance their businesses, purchase churches as well as make use of its saving schemes and personal loans.
The organisation has a special place in the heart of Britain’s black Christian community, including iRuach Ministries in Brixton, south London, the Church of God in Christ Headquarters, based in Luton and the New Testament Assembly in Nottingham amongst others, all of whom were purchased with loans from the PCU.
Shane Bowes, who was apprenticed under the guidance of Rev Jones, and has been a manager there for over 10 years said: “I’m excited about the forthcoming PCU 35th anniversary celebrations. Bishop Delroy Powell, the son of one of the credit union’s founding members, will be officiating at the dedication service of the newly refurbished head office. which is based in Balham, South London, on 14 April 2016. Councillor Leslie McDonnell, the Deputy Mayor of Wandsworth, will unveil a specially commissioned plaque to commemorate this momentous event.
The credit union’s Youth Shadow Board consists of junior members aged between 11 and 18 who make proposals and suggestions about how the credit union might improve the products and services it provides, particularly with a view to attracting more young members to join.
The Youth Shadow Board had the idea for a music video to reach out to young people with financial education messages, and “Gimme Dat”was released October 2016 along with Christian rapper Tneek. The track looks at how materialist some young people can be and encourages them to think again about how they spend their money and become ‘money wise’ instead. The Youth Shadow Board has become an integral part of the business. There has been great development in the credit union since they began work in October 2016. They revised and renewed the junior membership saving policy and their work has helped to increase membership growth. 28% of all new members in 2016/17 were junior savers which has also helped membership growth in adults due to family and friends joining the credit union through the influence of the juniors.
On Sunday 8 January 2017, the theme on the BBC’s flagship religious programme Songs of Praise was ofEscaping Debt, and it explored how people’s faith has helped them – and inspired them to help others – avoid or recover from financial difficulties. The programme looked at The Pentecostal Credit Union’s work as a Christian credit union, and particularly focussing on their work delivering financial education for young people through their Moneywise workshops and their Youth Shadow Board.
On Sunday 8 January 2017, the theme on the BBC’s flagship religious programme Songs of Praise was ofEscaping Debt, and it explored how people’s faith has helped them – and inspired them to help others – avoid or recover from financial difficulties.
The programme looked at The Pentecostal Credit Union’s work as a Christian credit union, and particularly focussing on their work delivering financial education for young people through their Moneywise workshops and their Youth Shadow Board.
October 2017 was Black History Month in the UK and it turned 30 years. The credit union Youth Shadow Board enjoyed eight days of fulfilling leadership development activities, the highlight of the programme included a visit to the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool, where the Board took a guided tour and learned about the history of the African Diaspora in the UK. Throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, many of the African and Caribbean people arriving in the UK faced financial struggles. Racial discrimination was common throughout the banking sector and black people were more regularly turned down for loans. In relation to Black History Month.
The Credit Union’s new GiftBox! Service in 2022 is aiming to help young people make long-term choices about their personal finances that will help them achieve goals such as getting out of debt, create wealth or launch a business. As well as offering competitive loans and high-interest savings accounts GiftBox! will run Money Masterclasses aimed at improving members’ financial literacy. GiftBox! aims to foster both by providing a range of in-person and online events so that members can learn, build relationships and generate wealth.
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