In 1968 the credit union in Lisburn began as seed after a number of people over a pint or two decided to discuss the possibility, as there was one or two in Belfast, one in Derry and another in Lurgan.
Learning took place as to what a credit union was. Those people were Tommy Walker, Jimmy Weston and Gerry Fleeton, Noel Magee, Rev Fr Malachy Murphy, the Rev Alec Watson and with Alfie Bass, the Mayor of Lisburn. Each of these people gave their own personal support and encouragement and they formed a credit union study group.
Their persistence paid off. The network of credit unionists lent their support, with regular, helpful, advice and expertise from pioneers in Belfast and Derry and the Irish League of credit unions in Dublin. Some more friends and family were recruited to sign up as founder members of the credit union in 1970. The first week’s income was the princely sum of £3-17s-6p. Some months later small loans were granted for “provident or productive purposes”.
Membership of the credit union has also increased year on year, a reflection of continued loyalty to the not for profit, community lenders. For 40-years the Credit Union has provided affordable financial services to people in Lisburn on a not-for-profit basis and been part of community life.
Through a calendar of events, they reach out to local people of all ages, supporting them when they are vulnerable. The board have engaged Progress Software Company to install a new computer system. In 2012, the Credit Union was in a position to partner Macmillan Cancer Support and have made a donation of £500 to support its work in Lisburn.
As credit unions across the province continue to adjust to dual regulation by the Prudential Regulation Authority and Financial Conduct Authority, the unyielding demand for the core saving and loans services that they provide is testament to the relevance and necessity of the movement here. The challenge of retaining that relevance to individuals and families all over Northern Ireland is significant, and a priority for the years to come.
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