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Lord Mayor of Bradford urges more minority communities to open accounts with Bradford District Credit Union


29 Mar 18

Lord Mayor of Bradford, Abid Hussain is urging more Black and Minority Ethnic communities to open savings accounts with Bradford District Credit Union.

The Lord Mayor opened his savings account at City Hall in Bradford (BDCU), to set an example to people from ethnic minorities. BDCU has increased its links with Muslim organisations to become a ‘faith-friendly’ credit union. This approach means Muslim savers will not have to take interest on their savings as they would with non-Islamic financial organisations.

Speaking about the new initiative, Financial Inclusion Officer at BDCU, Ian Brewer says: “Having worked in Community Development with Asian and particularly Muslim community groups in India and here in Bradford, I wanted to find a solution to promoting the Credit Union to the 30% Muslim population in our City we are not reaching.”

Ian continued to explain how BDCU’s approach to become a ‘faith friendly’ organisation has helped gain trust from Muslim members. He said: “The issue was that we have the dividend which is generally allowed in Islam but we lend with interest which not. I began to use the phrase ‘Faith Friendly’ as a way to describe the dividend and it gained acceptance when working with Muslim organisations as well as faith groups in general.

“We then needed a high profile person to officially endorse it and one of our board members, Cllr Cath Bacon who asked the Lord Mayor to open a savings account with us to encourage Muslim savers. Before doing so he checked with Imams in the City to ensure that he could endorse the phrase.

“We are clear that we are not ‘Sharia Complaint’ but Muslims who want to avoid receiving interest from mainstream banks can save with us an ethical alternative.”

Speaking at City Hall, Cllr Bacon believes that this positive exposure will encourage more BMEs to use the credit union as an ethical lender and a safer place to save their money. She said: “There are a lot of people disenfranchised about bank accounts, through religion and financial position. We want to make the union as wide- reaching as possible and I said to the Lord Mayor it would be good for the BME community for him to open one to encourage others to do so.

“There are a range of account’s with a cross-purpose, such as faith-friendly and anti- poverty. It gives people accessible banking opportunities that are safer than keeping cash in in a safe or under a mattress. We want to help cut through the Jargon to make getting access to banking easier.”

Ian Brewer has encouraged more credit unions to endorse themselves as a faith friendly credit union and reach out to a wider religious community. Ian says: “The phrase has wider appeal too as anecdotal research I have carried out suggests that people of all faiths associate ‘Faith Friendly’ with their own ethical principles as such and is opening new doors to working with more BME and faith groups.

“We at BDCU are pleased to be able to share this with other credit unions who may feel this phrase can be used in their own marketing strategies without having to change the way they operate. I shared it with our American colleagues at the ABCUL Annual Conference and they are also looking at using the concept in their credit unions.”

Cllr Bacon has also announced workshops are going to be held over the summer for people from impoverished backgrounds to encourage them to join the credit union to gain financial independence and also to learn how to budget better and avoid payday loan companies.

Source – Telegraph and Argus



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