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Moray Firth Credit Union offers community more than financial support through pandemic

By Garry McCartney

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Member Anne Mackenzie (left) talking to volunteer Sue Hellon about the varied services.
Member Anne Mackenzie (left) talking to volunteer Sue Hellon about the varied services.

A LOCAL savings and loans cooperative has gone beyond the call of duty during the coronavirus pandemic.

Moray Firth Credit Union (MFCU) has stayed open with restricted hours throughout the lockdowns, offering essential financial services, face-to-face signposting, help filling out forms and distributing donations.

Founding member Lorna Creswell said staff and volunteers are only too happy to help in the spirit of community.

She said: “Our business is about affordable loans, but with a low uptake in the past year we have diversified. Every day has been different as some members need help with information about government initiatives, while others need a hand completing Moray Emergency Relief Funds applications.

“We signpost to other grants and benefits applications. We try to simplify the process for applying for grants and benefits and give out the 0300 1234 563 money advice number. There are still gaps in funding that has been allocated to some businesses, so we are gathering information all the time that can help.”

MFCU members do not have to provide details of family or employment, but these help staff understand their situations.

Lorna said: “Members joining don’t need to give many details, so we initially have no idea where we can assist. Over the last year it has been a privilege to become more familiar with our members, getting to know what they are going through with home schooling, furlough and anxiety about the future. We are dependent on what they tell us so we can help best.”

One MFCU volunteer suggested to Lorna that the cooperative is providing a type of social work service.

Lorna said: “Often forms are a challenge for folk so we are trying to help them complete them. We have had thoughtful donations of items, food and vouchers to distribute to people in financial hardship.

“We’ve also been humbled by extensive donations we’ve received, mostly from older members, to share with families and Forres Community Council. Two charities asked us to distribute to families too. It is part of our role to offer what we can. MFCU is a member-owned, member-led social enterprise. We are not for profit, not for charity, just people helping people.”

MFCU remains open on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 11am-1pm for face-to-face transactions.

However, it does encourage phoning 01309 676735 and online contact (info@morayfirthcreditunion.co.uk) wherever possible.

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