Actor Michael Sheen visits Edinburgh to open new credit union branch
18 May 18
Michael Sheen, the Hollywood actor and founder of End High Cost Credit Alliance, this week opened a new branch of Castle Community Bank in Edinburgh.
Michael Sheen this week visited Edinburgh to open the Leith branch of Castle Community Bank, a credit union serving communities throughout Edinburgh.
The actor, who has long been a supporter of the credit union movement, carried out the formal opening of the new branch, which is located in the heart of Edinburgh’s bustling Leith neighbourhood. In front a huge crowd who had gathered to mark the occasion, including Scottish Government Minister Angela Constance, former Scottish Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale, and Ben McPherson MSP, the actor made a passionate speech about the work of credit unions.
Speaking at the launch, Michael said: “The battle to make credit unions as effective as possible in taking on the high cost lenders can be a challenging one, but Castle Community Bank shows us many of the characteristics I think are needed to take an innovative, bold approach to those challenges. Communities all across the UK deserve a fairer, more responsible deal. The sort of deal that credit unions can offer. To help those communities thrive, not just survive.”
Also addressing the crowd at the launch was the credit union’s chair, Reverend Iain May, noting: “Since CCB was created in 2015 we are proud that we’ve helped more than 1500 people get access to fair and affordable credit. Sometimes people mistakenly believe that credit unions are only there for emergencies or for people who are on benefits – but nothing could be further from the truth.
“In fact, every day we provide loans to ordinary people and families across Edinburgh and Lothians enabling them do the things they want in life.
“We are constantly working to raise our profile and get that message out to more and more people, who may otherwise find themselves falling into a cycle of problem debt by taking out hire purchase agreements or pay day loans at punitive rates of interest which they can’t really afford.”
Angela Constance, Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities, said: “Everyone should have access to financial products they need to help them get on in life without feeling they have no choice but to turn to organisations such as payday lenders, which often charge extortionate interest rates, leaving people trapped in a cycle of debt.”
Ben Macpherson MSP for the community and also a member of the Cross Party Group on Credit Unions in the Scottish Parliament, for which ABCUL is the secretariat, has been a supporter of the credit union since its launch. Speaking at the event he said: “I’m delighted to see the opening of this new Leith branch of Castle Community Bank.
“Fair and accessible credit has a vital role to play in Leith, North Edinburgh and beyond. That’s why I have been working over the last 2 years to support Castle Community Bank and it’s great to see this modern, very impressive credit union going from strength to strength.
“Such high-profile support from Michael Sheen is a tribute to the great work that Castle Community Bank is doing and I hope that today’s official opening will raise awareness of their services and those of credit unions generally, as a more empowering and more responsible alternative to high-interest loan companies.”
Karen Hurst, ABCUL’s Scotland Policy Officer, who represented ABCUL at the launch said “The growing interest in the work of credit unions by politicians, the Scottish Government, and now even high profile actors is a huge tribute to the impact they are making on lives. We are really looking forward to working with the Scottish Government to deliver a campaign later this year to further promote the sector – there are many more people who could benefit from joining a credit union”