THIS year Lurgan Credit Union celebrates 50 years of serving the people of Lurgan.
In his address at this year’s AGM, Chairman Pat Kelly, compared the economic landscape of today to that which faced those who founded the Credit Union all those years ago. The similarities he claimed were striking.
And he reminded those present: “It was at such times as this when banks were refusing to lend money and money lenders were lending money at exorbitant interest rates back in the 1950s and 1960s that Credit Unions were born to help create an atmosphere wherein people could save and borrow regardless of class or creed.”
Mr Kelly said that the Lurgan Credit Union of today still held on to those same principles. The climate of fear still existed and it was therefore disappointing that a survey carried out by the Irish League of Credit Unions, showed that 65% of consumers worried that 2012 was more difficult than 2011, 44% had less disposable income than 12 months previous, while 150,000 people were turning to money lenders and Pay Day Loans to meet their bills.
He bemoaned the fact that money lenders continued to have a hold on many people in our community and he also highlighted the Household Income Tracker which showed that 14% of those who took out a typical loan of £300 from a money lender had to pay an average of 95% interest, giving a total payback sum of £586. This figure stood in stark contrast to the affordable loans available to members of the Credit Union which are up to 15 times cheaper than those from money lenders.
His most striking point was made when he pointed out: “Pay Day Loan companies are currently quoting loans of £400 over 31 days at a cost of £129, while the same loan from Lurgan Credit Union would cost £2.30.”
The ideals of the Credit Union were the same as those launched by a 27 year old, John Hume, President of the Irish League of Credit Union all those years ago as he reminded those present that “unlike other lenders we are not for profit, but a community owned organisation and we exist solely to meet the needs of our members.”
In order to mark the importance of this anniversary, the Credit Union Anniversary Committee have organised a series of events during the year.
These include a tree planting ceremony in Lurgan Park on April 5 by the Mayor to remember all those past members, staff and volunteers over the years who were such a vital part of the Credit Union.
There is also a series of draws open to all members of the Credit Union. These include a European break for two, a city weekend break and at the 50th Anniversary AGM, a special draw will take place with the prize a four night trip to New York for two.
There are growing numbers of juvenile account holders and in recognition of that they will have monthly draws while five educational bursaries would be made to students, encouraging those who were continuing in education.
The highlight will be a Family Fun Day on Bank Holiday Monday, May 6, at Lough Neagh Discovery Centre. Organised in conjunction with the Conservation Staff at the Centre, the day will be a mixture of educational and fun activities.
They will vary from face painting, art and craft activities and kite making to educational walks, pond dipping and bird watching while the highlight will be a treasure hunt around the centre with ‘gold coins’ for the entrants.
All of the prizes are on view on the Lurgan Credit Union website, and in the Credit Union Office, and Pat Kelly encouraged the members to join with them in making it a year to remember, not just for the Credit Union, but for the people of Lurgan.