A fundamental principle of the credit union sector is ‘people helping people’. The COVID-19 health crisis, with its associated social lockdown and economic shocks, has presented operational and commercial challenges to credit unions that go way beyond previous experience. Credit union members are having to cope with social distancing and sometimes isolation, as well as potentially reduced income or unemployment.

We have previously identified some examples of how credit unions are responding to support their staff, members and communities (6 April and 9 April). We have now produced a briefing paper summarising the immediate actions of 24 British credit unions and support organisations in March and April 2020. These confirm and exemplify the ‘credit union difference’. Some credit unions may find inspiration from this paper for ideas to help their own members; all can take pride in the values exhibited here. This is not an exhaustive review or analysis of all credit union operations. The report simply reflects the responses from credit unions to a request for examples of initiatives and experience in the face to the pandemic. The report can be downloaded here.

Later this month we will be releasing a paper looking at the responses of Irish credit unions, where there are similarities and differences in the context and actions to the British sector. In due course, we are also planning to look forward, considering what has been learned from the pandemic period, and what might be taken positively into the future.

If you have any feedback or suggestions for CFCFE, or would like to join us to support our work, please contact Nick Money, nick.money@swobodacentre.org.