Face-to-face banking is returning to a North Wales town next month after more than ten years thanks to a partnership between a leading North Wales social enterprise group and a credit union.
South Denbighshire Community Partnership’s Canolfan Ni headquarters in Corwen will play host to the Cambrian Credit Union’s new three-days a week service in the town.
There will be a special event to mark the opening of the service at Canolfan Ni on Friday, June 30, to which Clwyd South’s three constituency representatives, Senedd Members Ken Skates and Llyr Gruffydd and Simon Baines MP, have been invited.
The new full banking counter service starts on Tuesday, July 4, with the facilities to deposit and withdraw money and apply for loans and other services.
Corwen’s last full banking service ended when the Nat West branch in the town closed its doors in 2015 and since then there has been a limited service available at the town’s post office and a one-day a week mobile service provided by NatWest in the main car park.
SDCP Chief Executive Margaret Sutherland said: “This is a major win for Corwen which has had to put up with the lack of an in-person full banking service for over eight years.
“Even the NatWest mobile service has been intermittent, sometimes not turning up and often leaving people queuing in the rain for their turn.
“Tackling rural poverty in all its forms is a key part of what we do and the ever-declining banking facilities in rural communities further exacerbate this.
“Since 2018 £2.3 million of debt has been managed by Citizens Advice Denbighshire on behalf of residents.
“Online services do not meet everyone’s needs, especially not older people, digital exclusion is a widely recognised issue; training and support isn’t going to overcome this.
“Many have a real fear they will be scammed and having an internet connection at home is an additional expense that falls on the customer.
“The current fuel price crisis has highlighted that in an area blighted by rural poverty and where many homes are off-grid and reliant on heating oil, which must be paid for up front; a minimum order of £500 means for many staying warm is unaffordable.
“Many people rely on their car to get to work because of inadequate public transport and high maintenance bills can force them into the arms of the pay day loan sharks.
“The opportunity for them to save regularly for those rainy days can help including for those whose work is seasonal.”
She added that SDCP were inviting major local employers to the opening event on June 30 and would be looking to engage with them to raise awareness of the new service and the opportunities it provides to save and repay loans directly through their pay.
Representatives from the Cambrian Credit Union will also be present at the launch event to answer people’s questions about the new service which will operate three days a week, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, from 10 am to 2pm.
The services it will provide will include access to personal loans of up to £15,000, safe, and secure savings accounts, payroll deduction schemes to repay loans, a website and a mobile app and a protected savings service.
Ann Francis, Chief Executive Officer of Cambrian Savings & Loans, said: “We are delighted to be opening our newest cash HWB in Corwen, bringing services closer to our existing members in the county and welcoming more people to Cambrian.
“It’s vital that people in Denbighshire have access to affordable credit and ethical savings, and we have to thank Margaret Sutherland and the team from South Denbighshire Community Partnership’s Canolfan Ni for their support in helping us with that goal.
“With so many high street bank closures effecting the local area, and the increased digital only services provided by them, we believe the access to face-to-face cash services Cambrian will offer is imperative in supporting the community.”
SDCP, a grant-funded community charity founded in 2010 with a remit to combat rural poverty, has helped 2,171 local people claim £4.2 million in unpaid benefits, introduced community transport along the Dee Valley, run a meals on wheels service and even pioneered a hydro-electric power scheme.
They also work closely with Denbighshire Citizens Advice Bureau and with Denbighshire County Council and Margaret Sutherland said: “We are here to help and tackling rural poverty is one of our key aims.
“The return of a proper, dependable, and regular banking service in Corwen is a huge boost to the people of Edeyrnion.
“The days when the banking service is here coincide with events like our weekly lunches when we collect people from the rural areas to bring them here and take them home so they can combine that with a visit to their new bank.”
Credit unions, such as Cambrian Savings & Loans, are member-owned financial co-operatives with no external shareholders. They are run for their members – the people who save and borrow with them.
Cambrian Savings & Loans has supported communities for over 25 years with access to ethical, fair and affordable financial services to people living or Working in Wales.