Published: 24 August 2022
Darlington Building Society has been praised for enabling a vital community service to continue providing financial support to vulnerable people.
Darlington Credit Union (DCU) faced an uncertain future in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Darlington Building Society helped by providing financial support and tapping into the expertise among its staff to provide ongoing guidance on a voluntary basis.
DCU’s chair of trustees, Matthew Snedker, has paid tribute to the Society for its “invaluable” intervention. He said:
“Without that support from Darlington Building Society, along with help from Darlington Borough Council, it would have been very difficult for us to continue with the business growth plan we have in place.
“The bottom line is that we wouldn’t have been able to carry on helping as many people in the local community.”
Darlington Credit Union is a not-for-profit financial co-operative, founded in 2009, which helps people avoid loan sharks, and going into debt, by being a source of affordable loans.
As a result of the national lockdowns, some DCU customers were able to build up savings reserves because they weren’t going on holiday and spending so much on travel. However, others found themselves in financial hardship because of the impact on jobs and income.
Covid-19 led to cash flow problems because many people suddenly couldn’t pay back their loans, and that was then exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis. Income has been eroded by rising inflation, without pay rises, resulting in discretionary spending being squeezed.
Mr Snedker describes the Darlington Building Society grant and voluntary support as “a lifeline”.
“The support from Darlington Building Society was invaluable and is a testament to the way the Society is embedded in the community. It’s fantastic to be able to pick up the phone to a local building society and discuss financial support,” he said.
“After Covid-19, the onset of the cost of living crisis has underlined the importance of that support. We have to keep reacting to the needs of the community and Darlington Building Society has enabled us to be innovative and outward-looking.”
Darlington Building Society chief executive Andrew Craddock said: “Darlington Credit Union performs a vital local role and, as a fellow mutual that is embedded in the Darlington community, we felt it was important to provide support during a difficult time.
“In addition to the injection of financial support, it is every bit as important that we are also lending our expertise on an ongoing basis to ensure that Darlington Credit Union can continue to help vulnerable people manage their financial affairs with greater confidence and security.
“With the cost of living crisis only set to intensify over the coming months and years, a robust and varied financial services market will be essential. Credit unions play a vital role in this infrastructure and are a crucial staple on our high streets. Their services will be needed more than ever.”