Credit union celebration marks 20 years of helping to keep loan sharks at bay in Stevenage

20th anniverary of Stevenage Credit Union. Mayor of Stevenage Sherma Batson with director Marilyn Pe

20th anniverary of Stevenage Credit Union. Mayor of Stevenage Sherma Batson with director Marilyn Perschky and retiring president Peggy Lyons along with union's 200th member - Faeleen Aiyanna Niamh Hogan is four weeks old, the great-grandaughter of both women and was signed up as soon as she was born; - Credit: Archant

A community savings and loan scheme which aims to shut the door on loan sharks and high-interest payday lenders has marked its 20th birthday.

20th anniverary of Stevenage Credit Union. Volunteers received a vote of thanks and a small gift

20th anniverary of Stevenage Credit Union. Volunteers received a vote of thanks and a small gift - Credit: Archant

The annual meeting of Stevenage Credit Union was followed by a celebration gathering to mark the achievements of a group which had its origins in Shephall.

Membership is booming, with more than 2,000 people now signed up and more people than ever being helped with short-term loans and financial advice.

Cash has been advanced in the past year to help meet wedding and funeral costs, pay unexpected bills or pay for school uniform.

A new website was launched in October which allows members to check their accounts online, a new logo and uniforms for volunteers have been introduced, and new president John Morgan said that plans for the future include tapping into the expertise of local companies, the introduction of a prepaid credit card and online banking.

The celebration cake was made by June Hampton of Hamptons Catering in Knebworth, who is director Mar

The celebration cake was made by June Hampton of Hamptons Catering in Knebworth, who is director Marilyn Perschky's sister - Credit: Archant

Mr Morgan is taking over from Peggy Lyons, who will still be involved with the organisation.

Peggy, who headed the credit union for 17 years, said: “Credit unions are for the community, there to help people in difficult times. I have every confidence that the new president will build on our current success and move the organisation forward.”

Most Read

She paid tribute to all the volunteers and directors who had been involved over the years, and other supporters including the Citizens Advice Bureau, Stevenage Community Trust, the Follett Trust and borough and county councillors.

Stevenage Borough Council provides rent-free offices for the credit union and council leader Sharon Taylor said: “To see the growth and success of the credit union has been fantastic.

20th anniverary of Stevenage Credit Union. Retiring president Peggy Lyons and new president John Mor

20th anniverary of Stevenage Credit Union. Retiring president Peggy Lyons and new president John Morgan - Credit: Archant

“It’s a very important part of our community and it has an important role to play, particularly in these times of financial insecurity, zero hours contracts and benefits cuts.

“We need the credit union to provide a safety net, not just with money but also by helping people to understand finance.”

The credit union already has schemes for young savers in operation at six schools and children’s centres in the town, to help educate the next generation about balancing the books.

Find out more online at www.stevenagecreditunion.com.

20th anniverary of Stevenage Credit Union. Retiring president Peggy Lyons, founder member Pat Palmer

20th anniverary of Stevenage Credit Union. Retiring president Peggy Lyons, founder member Pat Palmer both received presentations from new president John Morgan - Credit: Archant

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter