Manchester Credit unions see huge increase in members as many struggle with finances during Covid

  • Video report by Anna Youssef

Many credit unions in the North West have seen a huge increase in members as people continue to struggle financially due to coronavirus.

The non-profit financial organisations, where members pool their savings to lend to one another, offer loans at low interest rates.

In November eight credit unions from across Greater Manchester joined forces to launch a Covid-19 recovery plan, hoping to offer £15 million in financial support to members.

Sheenagh Young, CEO of South Manchester Credit Union, says she is seeing an uptake in people choosing to use credit unions, especially young people.

"We are definitely seeing younger people coming to see us, they are finding that we are probably more accessible than they realised because of the digital approach that we have got and I think on social media our marketing is reaching out more and I think it is particularly hard for young people at the moment because their life chances are so affected by Covid. "

Darren is just one person who has taken advantage of credit unions as money became tight due to the coronavirus lockdowns.

Darren Howard is one person who has benefitted from taking out a loan with a credit union.

When he decided to start his own building business in August he needed a new van - but after being unemployed for several months he did not want to be hit by high interest rates.

He says: "I use credit union because the interest rates are low and it is quick and easy. Money's in the bank within the week... and it's very straightforward."

Sherita set up a charity and won Volunteer of the Year at the Manchester Be Proud Awards in 2019.

Sherita Mandongwe, a widow with two disabled children, has also been helped. She took out loans to support her family and fund her university studies.

After graduating she paid that money back and then took out another loan to set up her own children's charity.

Last year she won Volunteer of the Year at the Manchester Be Proud Awards.

South Manchester Credit Union is one of eight who have come together to help people out during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sheenagh and her team have been kept busy throughout lockdown. She has also noticed that for some people lockdown has been a chance to build up their savings

She says: "We are finding that for some people lockdown has been a time when they have been able to save, their spending has gone down, and perhaps they have been doing extra hours if they are a key worker, working at a hospital so they have saved up more money and they are perhaps starting to think of their finances in a different way ."