During 1997 some people in Bridgwater were considering the possibility of setting up a credit union in the town. In July discussions took place at Sydenham.
At about the same time at Unity House some members of the Labour Party, the Co-Operative Party and others involved with the Hope Project were having similar discussions. A public meeting initiated by the Hope Project was arranged for 23rd October 1997. Shortly after a steering group was set up that included people from the Unity House discussions, Sydenham and other community groups. The enthusiasm and competence of the steering group ensured rapid progress.
In the spring of 1998 the common bond area of Bridgwater town was agreed and training began for the volunteers. In June Bridgwater Credit Union (Proposed) was set up. In September 1998 “Bridgwater (Somerset) Credit Union Limited” was registered and the first collection point opened in Sydenham Community Centre. A target of 100 members in the first year was reached in six months; there were 150 members by the first anniversary.
Meanwhile in May 1999 the “Churches Together in Burnham and District” organised a public meeting in Highbridge about setting up a credit union there. Linking with the Bridgwater (Somerset) Credit Union Ltd emerged as the best option and during 2000 work commenced on a request to increase the common bond, which was granted in early 2001. Volunteer training continued during the interim period. The new name “Bridgwater and District Credit Union Limited” was registered in May 2001 and the collection point at Hope Baptist Church Highbidge was opened in June 2001.
Sydenham Single Regeneration Budget (SRB) had supported the Credit Union from the beginning and provided an office within their premises.
When the SRB closed down in 2002 the Credit Union moved to 40 Eastover, which served as a shop, an office and a base for training, committee meetings and events. The shop was officially opened in November 2002.
At various times in the first few years more collection points were opened and membership continued to grow. Another milestone was the launch of Junior Savers in December 2003.
The next important change happened in January 2007 when the common bond area was extended to include all of Sedgemoor District and the Quantock Vale ward of West Somerset District. Now anyone who lives or works in Sedgemoor or Quantock Vale is eligible to join the Bridgwater and District Credit Union.
In April 2008, the Credit Union moved out of the shop at 40 Eastover and into new accommodation in the Victoria Park Community Centre. Although the new venue is smaller and without a shop front, being in the heart of a new community project and having an improved working environment means it should attract and maintain more members and volunteers. Importantly, the substantial financial savings will mean less dependence on grants resulting in more money to develop the business and distribute to the members.
From 1st October 2017 Bridgwater & District Credit Union (now also known as SOMERSET COMMUNITY CREDIT UNION) will merge with Taunton Deane & West Somerset Credit Union adopting SOMERSET COMMUNITY CREDIT UNION as the new name. All policies and procedures will be harmonised and a new Management Committee elected in time for the merger date
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