Gateway Credit Union is celebrating a major milestone as its members’ savings accounts have reached £3m for the first time.
The landmark moment came after 22 years of offering ethical savings and affordable loans across Torfaen and Monmouthshire.
Established in 1997 in Pontypool, Gateway Credit Union has continually grown with the opening of further offices in Cwmbran, Abergavenny and Bulwark, Chepstow, along with outreach sessions in various locations, and school savings clubs.
This month the collective savings accounts of its 4,200 members finally exceeded the £3m mark.
General manager Sara Burch said: “This is an important moment in the history of our community-run savings and loans co-operative because it stands as a testament to the support of our members over so many years.
“We always put them first which is how we differ from other high street banks and its that level of personal service that makes our members loyal to the credit union cause.
“Our staff build relationships with members which is particularly important when deciding on loan applications, for example, as we treat them as individuals and not as some computer scoring exercise.”
Gateway Credit Union offers Christmas savings, junior accounts, school saver clubs, bonds, family loans, payroll partner accounts, the Change Account pre-paid debit card and community accounts for groups and societies alongside a range of loans from just £50 to £10,000.
It also has a wide range of payroll partners including Torfaen and Monmouthshire councils, health boards, housing associations and private businesses ranging from the Celtic Manor Resort to a local builders’ merchants.
Gateway Credit Union works with a number of schools by offering saver schemes which helps develop a young person’s financial knowledge, learn the benefits of saving and help improve numeracy skills.
Nick Thomas-Symonds, MP for Torfaen, said: “I warmly congratulate Gateway Credit Union on reaching the remarkable milestone. Gateway is a key part of our local community – the credit union model, with its goal of not making money from its customers, is precious and such an important part of our financial sector.”
Lynne Neagle AM said: “It is brilliant to see the credit union growing from strength to strength. Gateway is a lifeline to so many people and I would like to thank the staff and volunteers who have enabled it to reach this £3m mark.”
The initial idea for the credit union came from Brian and Paula Pippen and other members of the Rectorial Benefice of Pontypool, to be based in Trevethin.
Brian is still chairman of Gateway Credit Union, while retired teacher Paula sits on the board and credit committee, with a regular day in the office.
Together they have seen their fledgling organisation grow to become Torfaen Credit Union and when it branched out into Monmouthshire became Gateway Credit Union in 2008.
Today Gateway has 3,500 active adult members and 700 junior members who have £3,000,000 in savings and £1.9m in loans.