The mainstream banks may continue to occupy the media spotlight on a daily basis, but for over 3 million people on the island of Ireland the credit union remains a primary port of call for their financial requirements. For everyday needs, like paying for this summer’s holiday, the children’s education, a new set of wheels or Christmas the local credit union office is a cornerstone of every community.
Such is the case with Life Credit Union, which has been serving its common bond for many years, having first opened its doors in Naas just over 50 years ago. It now has offices in Monread, Maynooth and Newbridge and last year increased its lending by over €6m and has attracted nearly 3,600 new members in the process.
While firmly rooted in the credit union tradition of putting members first, with a caring and personal service characterised by ‘dignity and honesty’, Life Credit Union is quick to dispel any misconception that its approach is somehow behind the times. “New members are the lifeblood of any credit union and we are investing in products and technology to serve the latest generation of member in a way that is relevant to them,” explains newly appointed Chief Executive Karen Mulligan.
Current accounts and online banking are some of the upcoming additions to Life Credit Union services, while recent offerings include an Indi loan for younger members and a Big Life loan of up to €75,000. Life credit union is currently offering reduced rates of 6.25% and 6.5% on car and home improvement loans respectively as part of its flash rate sale.
Ms Mulligan sees exciting times ahead, as regulatory changes are afoot which will enable credit unions provide more longer-term lending. “For our members, this will mean a real alternative and competition to the main banks,” she contends. “For us as a credit union, it promises to strengthen our presence in the local community even more.”
AT THE HEART OF OUR COMMUNITY
That community presence does not stop at providing loans. Last year the novel #GivingTuesday campaign saw members and staff give of their time to local groups and charities such as Down Syndrome Kildare, Tidy Towns, The Dining Room Newbridge, Food Bank Naas, and KWWSPCA. This is in addition to ongoing donations and support for various other local initiatives.
At the heart of the credit union heritage is ownership. As with all others, Life Credit Union is owned entirely by its local members and is run for their benefit. Unlike banks, there are no distant shareholders whose sole concern is extracting profit. “We are vested in the locality by our very structure,” comments Chairman Marion Hanlon. “This sets us apart from other financial institutions in a fundamental way.”
GET INVOLVED WITH US!
With Ireland enjoying an upsurge in volunteering across many fields, the credit union provides an outlet to make a purposeful contribution to the local community, as Ms Hanlon explains: “Life Credit Union is here to improve the financial and social well-being of our community. We can only do that through the dedication of volunteers, both as board and committee members. For anyone looking to give back to the community, irrespective of age or professional background, I would say our credit union offers a rewarding and fulfilling experience, with the satisfaction of knowing that your contribution is a very real and meaningful one to those living and working around you.”
Anyone interested in becoming involved with Life Credit Union is invited to contact Hilary Dempsey on 045 879 622 or email firstname.lastname@example.org