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Saving for Christmas

20 June 2014

MURSTON Community Bank, a branch of Kent Savers' Credit Union, based at All Saints', Murston, in Canterbury diocese, encourages people to save, but not to draw their savings out too readily.

Phil Bromwich, the churchwarden, who is also "bank manager", says that, since opening their doors last January, the volunteers who run the Murston Community Bank and Drop-in Centre have helped people to save about £47,000, but to gain access to loans of only £3000.

"When people visit us and say they want a loan, we sit them down and have a chat over a cuppa. Usually, we find they are very open to discussing their problems with us, and that actually the last thing they really need is a loan. We can signpost them to organisations that may help them resolve the problem without getting them deeper into debt."

A key partner working with the bank is the Citizens Advice Bureau, which holds an advice surgery each week to tackle debt, legal issues, marriage matters,and so on. "When anyone arrives," Dianne Smith, one of the volunteers, says, "they are offered a cup of tea or coffee and a space to sit down, and we take it from there."

Now the bank has launched a Christmas savings account for families. The assistant curate at All Saints', the Revd Lesley Jones, says: "We have met a lot of families who really struggle to save. When we have talked about an account [where] you can save as little a £1 a week, their response is very enthusiastic."

But one of its biggest attractions is is the condition that withdrawals cannot be made until mid-November, just in time for Christmas shopping.

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