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Bolton's credit union turns 30

Bolton's credit union turns 30

A Bolton-based credit union that started out as a way of helping local people become more financially independent is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

Hoot, which now has over 6,000 members across Bolton and Bury, started 30 years ago as Johnson Fold Credit Union.

Since then it has made over £10m of low-cost loans to local people and today holds almost £2m in savings. Studies show it also provides £9.5m worth of social value benefits to local communities each year.

Hoot Chief Executive David Batten, pictured, believes recent events have made Hoot and other credit unions as relevant today as they’ve always been.

David, who has led Hoot since 2001, said: “Credit unions are effectively co-operative financial services providers, which means they are owned and controlled by their members. We’re still doing what we’ve always done, which is helping people access financial products in a more ethical and affordable way.

“Over the years we’ve helped thousands of members to get into the habit of saving money so they can get loans that are more affordable. Crucially, this helps people improve their credit score, their financial confidence and sense of wellbeing.

“Following the pandemic, these are difficult times for many people and Hoot remains committed to supporting those who need a bit of help getting their finances on track.”

While being an independent financial services organisation, Hoot works closely with Bolton at Home and supporting the credit union’s services are a key part of Bolton at Home’s strategy to tackle and prevent poverty.

Jon Lord, Group Chief Executive Officer of Bolton at Home, said: “Credit unions can help almost anyone, but they are especially important to those who are at risk of debt and financial exclusion. Hundreds of our tenants have been able to stay out of debt and look forward to a brighter financial future because of support from Hoot.

“A good number of staff also benefit by saving with Hoot through payroll deductions, something that’s open to employers across Bolton. We want to ensure Hoot can be around for many years to come to support local people and communities.”

Johnson Fold Credit Union opened its doors on July 19, 1990, encouraging residents to build up a savings pot and then use those savings as security for borrowing at more affordable rates.

Its success encouraged other credit unions to open in Bolton and Johnson Fold Credit Union later merged with Quids in Credit Union in 2005. The credit union was renamed Hoot in 2009.

You can find out more by visiting Hoot's website at www.wisewithmoney.org.uk.

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