Hi-Scot Credit Union is celebrating its success having been selected from dozens of applications from across the UK to be awarded £42,000 from The Barclays Community Finance Fund.
Transact, the national forum for financial inclusion, which manages the fund, worked with a panel of independent experts to reduce nearly 80 high quality applications to just six successful projects.
Based in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, Hi-Scot Credit Union has been serving the Western Isles of Scotland since 2006. In 2010, the organisation extended its reach to cover the Highlands and Islands and now serves an area larger than Belgium. The funding will support the purchase of a camper van which will become a familiar sight at community events, places of work, and at markets and fairs throughout the Highlands with the aim of increasing its membership by 100%.
David Mackay, Manager at Hi-Scot Credit Union, said: “I am delighted that our application has been successful and Barclays have agreed to fund the purchase of a camper van. This will significantly raise our profile and help us reach out to many more people across the Highlands & Islands.”
Barclays has committed £1 million over three years to the Barclays Community Finance Fund to support the delivery of affordable credit. The fund is targeted at organisations that support individuals who may otherwise be restricted to accessing high cost credit or taking out illegal loans
David Steer, Regional Director for UK Retail Banking at Barclays in Scotland, commented: “The applications this year were of a particularly high standard with many innovative and interesting project ideas, which made it extremely difficult to shortlist them down to those we could fund.
“This is a great opportunity for Hi-Scot Credit Union to use the funding to support its next steps towards increasing membership, sustainability and growth. We hope that the experience they gain this year will provide important knowledge that can be shared by the sector.”
Projects are funded over 12 months to develop and continue work to increase access to affordable credit.
Highland MP Danny Alexander said: “I was proud to support the Hi Scot Credit Union application to the Barclays Community Finance Fund and I am thrilled that they have been successful this year.
“Expansion will mean that all those living or working in the Highlands and Islands will be able to access its competitive and affordable financial products, whilst ensuring that benefits stay within their local economy.
“Credit Unions have a key role to play in rebalancing our economy – by encouraging higher rates of saving and ensuring affordable access to credit. They do vitally important work to promote greater financial understanding and responsibility. “I am delighted to be a member of Hi-Scot Credit Union and encourage people across the Highlands to join up now or when the new campervan is on in their area.”