Wiltshire Savings and Loans is a credit union serving the county of Wiltshire. A credit union is a financial cooperative that enables people who live or work in the area to work together to help each other get on top of their finances. The organisation is owned and run by its members for the benefit of its members.
We encourage our members to save money when they are able to. Then, when they face financial difficulties, we are able to offer them low-cost loans to help them through those times. Even those people who are not already members may be able to borrow money if they are in difficulty, with the intention that this will help them manage their money better in the future.
Many people in our community are not able to use high-street banks effectively, often due to poor credit records. When they need a loan to help them through a difficult period, they often then turn to high-interest money lenders (payday loan companies), which can drive them deeper into debt. Interest rates charged by credit unions are capped by law, and we also encourage members to save, thus making us an ethical option for banking in the community.
Our website is at www.wiltshiresavingsandloans.co.uk .
How to Help Your Credit Union
Wiltshire Savings and Loans, in common with most credit unions, is mainly run by an army of volunteers, who willingly give up some of their time on a regular basis. We welcome people from all parts of the community to join us, and training is given where necessary. This can be in any of the following areas:
Working in a customer service, or collection point
Our collection points are found in various community places around the county – libraries, shops etc. They are open on specified days each week – the times are listed on our website. Volunteers at the collection points will accept deposits from customers, and will also make arrangements for withdrawals to be made on request. They also help members apply for loans, passing the details of the request to our office in Salisbury.
Working with Partner Organisations
We have links to a number of companies and organisations around the county. These range from commercial companies, councils, advice centres, housing associations and many more. Many of our partners’ customers are people who have difficulty getting service from high-street banks, so our hope is that they will then be able to turn to us for financial help before considering a high-interest provider. Volunteers visit these organisations on a regular basis, ensuring the credit union and its services are being publicised well, and sometimes speaking about the credit union at meetings. Some of our partner companies operate a “payroll deduction” scheme, whereby employees arrange for part of their salary to be paid by their payroll department directly to the credit union, where it will be placed in a deposit account. Volunteers visit these companies on a regular basis, ensuring the scheme is working properly and helping to publicise it to potential new members. At a more ad-hoc level, volunteers can work through churches to advertise the credit union, either in newsletters or by speaking to congregations.
Working in our Office
Our office is based in Salisbury and is the hub of the credit union. We need people who can work as a member of a team, undertaking various office tasks like data input, filing, speaking on the phone to customers and making tea. The office is open five days per week, but volunteers can work on a part-time basis on a rota, organised by the office manager.
Working at Board Level
There are some roles in the credit union which require some level of experience or expertise, helping to shape the future strategy of the organisation, taking strategic decisions or managing volunteers. We are particularly interested in finding volunteers who can be part of the credit union board of directors. Volunteers may have a background in business development and management, marketing, finance, accountancy or many other areas. Although the credit union is a community initiative and we always keep that focus, it is necessary to run it as a business, identifying and developing business opportunities and managing risk. Our current board-level gaps are
- Treasurer. Our current treasurer is hoping to retire (again) soon. The treasurer’s role includes regular reporting to the board on the credit union’s financial health, and reporting to regulatory authorities
- Business Planning and Management. We need someone who can manage and develop our medium and long-term business plan as input to our overall strategy
- Website and Social Media Manager, looking after our online presence and ensuring our internet presence is kept up-to-date and relevant
- IT and Operations Director, ensuring our office and collection points operate smoothly, and overseeing the IT infrastructure