Wiltshire community bank marks first birthday with award nomination

A COMMUNITY bank serving people Wiltshire has marked its first birthday by passing a lending milestone.

The Acorn Community Bank has passed a £2 million lending milestone and welcomed more than 1,000 new members after it was formed in April last year.

It came about after a merger between Wiltshire and Swindon Credit Union, Clivey Credit Union (WASCU) in Swindon, and Swan Community Bank in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire.

Since then, it has seen its membership rise from 4,184 to 5,308 – with 30 new people joining each month.

Acorn, which is based in Cavendish Square, Swindon, has also loaned £2.2 million to its members since the merger.

Credit unions, which are owned by their members and run on their behalf, provide affordable loans for people who are unable to get credit elsewhere to prevent them from going to payday loan companies or loan sharks.

Members open savings accounts and, provided they meet loan criteria, can take out loans which are repaid monthly.

Manager Clive Henly said: “It has been a fantastic first year for Acorn and none of us can believe it has passed so quickly.

“In the months leading up to Christmas we saw an increasing demand for loans, though this has recently eased up a little.”

In response to a rise in the number of members asking for loans to buy school uniforms just before the start of the autumn term, Acorn has launched a Uniform Saver account so that families can put away money throughout the year.

Its Christmas Saver scheme has also helped 200 members put away money to help them cover the costs of presents.

Mr Henly added: “Our savings incentives have proved to be very popular with 470 people taking part, saving £42,600 so far.”

In Salisbury, the bank is also set to launch a project with Wiltshire Council to help people facing life-changing situations such as long-term illness or loss of employment get financial support and plan financially for their future.

The bank has also been nominated for the Best Credit Union (South) Award in financial website Smart Money People’s annual Consumer Credit Awards, which its forerunner, WASCU, won two years ago.

Staff at Acorn have been working alongside loan shark experts from England’s Illegal Money Lending Team to highlight the dangers of borrowing from loan sharks and encouraging members to save regularly.

Mr Henly is expecting Acorn to see demand for loans continue despite the recent fall in inflation.

“The rise in membership and demand has been consistent in all areas,” he said. “The cost-of-living issue continues to put pressure on people’s budgets, and we are seeing this when we assess their affordability when they apply for a loan.

“Now that inflation is easing, we are preparing to support our members as they take new steps in their financial journey, perhaps looking to fund home improvements, cars and holidays.”

For more details about the bank’s services, or to get in touch, go to

To vote for the bank in the Smart Money People Awards visit

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