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British contingent of credit unions visit co-operative district in Italy


26 Oct 18

Last week a British credit union contingent participated in a week-long study symposium in Trento, Italy.

Representatives of ABCUL and of credit unions from the North West of England travelled to Trento as part of a two-year programme which brings together staff from credit unions in Romania, the UK and co-operative banks in Italy.  The focus of the week was for the three groups to explore issues around governance, director training, and the financial education of members.

This was the second of a series of three symposia, the first took place this year in Liverpool and the third is planned for 2019 in Romania. Participants of the trip were hosted by the Federazione Trentina Della Co-operazione. The Federation represents, assists, protects, and reviews the recognised co-operative movement operating in the province of Trento.  The presence of co-operatives in almost all economic sectors of activity makes Trentino a real ‘Co-operative District' like few other areas in the world.

Representing ABCUL on the trip was Policy & Regulatory Compliance Officer, Daniel Arrowsmith. The Federation's mission for a cooperation  is something the UK sector shares, Daniel says: "The Federation's focus on making the region a ‘co-operative district'  reverberates with what credit unions aspire to be in the UK. As we celebrated International Credit Union Day alongside our Romanian and Italian colleagues, it was a great reminder of how much value there is in credit unions sharing and co-operating on both a national and global level".

The week’s programme focussed on the current transformation of the Italian co-operative banking system, exploring key issues of interest to both Romanian and British credit unions, including the modernisation of technology, training programmes for directors and staff, and the prioritisation of the implementation of co-operative values and principles through the process of change.

Of particular interest to a number of participants was the engagement of local co-operative banks with the financial education of young people. The groups were also introduced to the wider co-operative sector in the Trentino region through visits to agricultural co-operatives.

Despite the differences between each respective country’s co-operatives, delegates returned with a wealth of new ideas which they can apply to their own organisations. Daniel added: "Visiting the local co-operatives was a great experience to understand different ways co-operatives develop and strengthen the communities they serve.  Co-operation between co-operatives is essential to the credit union ethos and this programme builds on that ethos this at both local and international levels.

“This has been a really inspiring visit for everyone who joined the study group, with so many great ideas and innovations we can learn from in the UK”.

Participating British credit unions in the symposium were Enterprise Credit Union, Lodge Lane Credit Union, Unify Credit Union, Hoot Credit Union, Pennine Community Credit Union, Manchester Credit Union, South Manchester Credit Union and the Co-operative Credit Union. The EU project’s organising partners in the UK are the Co-operative Credit Union and Liverpool John Moores University.



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