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West Cheshire Credit Union (WCCU) is a local financial co-operative, run and controlled by its’ members who either live, work, study or volunteer in Cheshire. The not-for-profit, community-based organisation provides safe and affordable loans, particularly to those who are unable to access mainstream products.

Launched in 2004, WCCU has more than 4,500 members and currently has £1.3 million out on loan, with loans ranging from £50 to £2,000. In recent times the trends of borrowing have turned towards the struggles paying everyday bills such as electricity and rent, worsened by the cost-of-living crisis. WCCU provides an affordable, secure way to borrow money and is much safer than using dangerous borrowing methods, such as loan sharks.

The Chester Bluecoat Charity has been a long-standing supporter of the credit union. The charity recently granted WCCU £7,600 per annum for three years to enable them to upgrade existing IT infrastructure, enhance their remote operations and input disaster recovery management. This will strengthen and ensure WCCU’s vital service, which, following the pandemic, many now access online.

Below are two case studies of how WCCU has helped two members, demonstrating how much of a lifeline their services are.

Emma’s Story

Emma is a full time carer for one of her children who has numerous additional needs. Her child was admitted to hospital for a major operation which not only was a very worrying time, but on top of this, Emma learnt that her carers allowance would be temporarily stopped during the time in hospital, as she wasn’t considered to be the main care giver. The hospital stay meant, on top of her usual bills and costs, she also had transport and meals there to pay for and she struggled to cover everything during the fortnight her child was there.

She contacted WCCU but wasn’t holding out much hope as she was still paying off a loan from them and her income was much lower than normal, due to some benefits being temporarily stopped. However, the team at WCCU listened and understood her situation and due to its’ urgency, they processed her application to increase her loan on the same day. It meant Emma could return to her child in hospital with one less thing to worry about. She said the team are so friendly and helpful, she would recommend WCCU to everyone who needs their service.

Jack’s Story

Jack was in his 50s when he lost his job suddenly, finding it a shock to the system as he had always worked meaning he had a roof over his head and paid all bills on time. He struggled to find new employment and when his overdraft limit had been reached, his bills started mounting up and soon the bailiffs were knocking on his door.

Faced with eviction, Jack turned to West Cheshire Credit Union for help. The union supported him in various ways, including helping him to set up a prepaid debit card and signposting him to people that could sort out benefits for him. Jack says things were hard for a long time, but thanks to the credit union, he was slowly chipping away at his debts and has now got back on track and now +

has over £800 in his credit union savings account.

To read more about West Cheshire Credit Union, please click here