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Credit union will save debtors from ‘sharks’
VOLUNTEERS have come forward to run a credit union in Barton to help those struggling with debt.
Last month, the Oxford Mail reported calls were being made to set up the community lending and saving service to stop people falling deeper into debt to loan sharks and payday lenders.
Eight people offered their help at a meeting last Monday evening at St Mary’s Church in Bayswater Road.
Paul Marlow, from Stowford Road, was one of those to come forward.
The 55-year-old said: “People are very short of money and sometimes they get to the point where they go to a loan shark, which is horrendous.
“If it will make it easier for them to get money, then a credit union is the most brilliant thing there is.”
Estate resident Robin Peake, who also volunteered, said the service could be set up at the church.
The 27-year-old said: “The two things that are needed are premises and people.
“We now need to do some research to see how well it would be received in Barton.”
A bid to run a credit union on the estate fell through about eight years ago.
The Rev Maggie Thorne, another volunteer and vicar at St Mary’s Church, said it was hoped any new Barton service would be a part of the Oxford Credit Union.
She said: “It might be the right time now. We are not trying to do it on our own. We are doing it as part of the Oxford Credit Union.
“We just suggest there is a satellite here so there is a focal point for local people.”
Barton and Sandhills Oxford City Council member Van Coulter said he was planning to put £500 of his ward budget towards the union.
He said: “I am happy to see it going forward.
“I am aware there are loan sharks operating in Barton and anything that can allow people to self-help at an ethical rate of interest, but moreover to encourage people to save and plan for a rainy day, I think it’s something that really needs backing.”
Mark Luntley, chairman of Oxford Credit Union, said he was happy to help and said the interest from volunteers was a “good sign”.
He said: “It shows people are passionate about this and believe in it.
“We are up for supporting different communities either by sharing our expertise if they want to set up their own credit union, or if they want to set up a branch off Oxford Credit Union we are happy to help them as well.”
Anyone interested can attend the next meeting at St Mary’s Church at 7pm on Monday.
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