A new charity, which will arrange banking services for Guernsey residents who can't get their own bank account, has opened its doors in the Bordage for the first time and is now taking on customers.
Guernsey Community Savings was set up by former Director General of the Guernsey Financial Services Commission, Peter Neville, who has been working on it for the past four years.
“I am so proud of the team and grateful to all the donors and supporters who have made this possible," he said. "They have worked with us through the frustrating delays and technical challenges.
"Our premises are friendly and welcoming and now we can begin to help those who are financially excluded in Guernsey. This is so important, to encourage and help people take control of their lives, start building savings and become full members of the community."
The charity aims to help anyone who's been financially excluded, including former prisoners, those leaving care, people with debt problems and those affected by relationship breakdowns or other personal crises.
Pictured: The charity will help former prisoners among others.
The charity will open an account on the mimoney platform for customers, and any funds credited into the account will then be placed with a UK bank regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority. It will allow each customer to have their own account, a linked debit card and a means of building up savings.
“In this modern, digital age, which seems to be heading towards a cashless society, to be refused a bank account, for any reason at all, discriminates against some of the most vulnerable and pushes them further towards the margins of society," said Mary Herve of Guernsey Caring for Ex-Offenders. "Their feelings of rejection and worthlessness are reinforced. Guernsey Community Savings is telling them they are valued and worth caring about.”
The charity will also offer basic budgeting advice and small loans to help overcome financial crises.
“As we take on our first customers and build the network of agencies referring customers to us it is becoming clear that we will need to review our initial assessment of demand," Mr Neville added. "More agencies want to refer customers to us. Many of our customers have complex needs and helping them can be very time consuming.
Pictured: The charity will offer financial advice.
"The economic and social consequences of the covid pandemic have increased the numbers needing support, and changes within the banking system mean people are having to find other ways to access the financial system. As awareness grows of what GCS does, we are already receiving requests to extend its services."
To open an account, customers must be referred to the charity by a community support agency. The team will then make an initial decision as to whether to open an account for the person and, if it's positive, they will be contacted to arrange an interview and further meetings before a final decision is made.
“Do not underestimate the significance of what Peter and his team have achieved in unlocking a secure banking facility for prisoners," said Andrew Ozanne, who carries out charity work in the justice and healthcare sectors. "It will remove one of the main anxieties as prisoners work through their lead up to release seeking employment and securing accommodation and adding to the common objective of reducing reoffending.”
For further information on the charity and how community support agencies can get involved, click HERE.
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