In 1993 a meeting for local groups to see if there was interest in setting up a credit union by then then vicar of Saint John’s Church.
The meeting was held in an upstairs room at George Hall Court. About 20 people attended, many from the church, and most volunteered to take part. Later that year Parks and Walcot Credit Union (CU) set up and approved (originally a savings club). The credit union operated from the Community Shop and was restricted to people who lived in Parks and Walcot. By January 1996 346 members had joined. In first three years’ members, had saved £96,000 and over £100,000 was lent to members. In 2002 – The credit union was taking up too much space in the Community Shop, so moved into a shop next to the chemist in Cavendish Square. Parks and Walcot CU together with Calne Community CU, Gainsborough CU, West Wiltshire CU Steering Group and North Wilts CAB got together to produce a video to explain what credit unions are all about. In 2004 People were being turned away so Parks and Walcot decided to change the common bond and the name to Steam Ahead Credit Union was born. The new common bond approved in 2005 was now all people living in Swindon south of the railway line and as far as Bishopstone.
Extra costs of running credit unions (eg. regulatory fees and introduction of Capital Gains Tax on investment income) led to a pressure on finances and a move within Wiltshire to merge credit unions was in discussion. Some integration has resulted the issue of having one credit union for the whole of Wiltshire remains unresolved. Grants were received of £3,000 to Steam Ahead to purchase office equipment and the credit union moved into brand new offices provided by Swindon Borough Council as part of the Cavendish Square Development.
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