A CITY BASED, community driven financial organisation has had one of its most successful years on record having handed out a recorded breaking savings sum to local families and children. Now with nearly 450 members it has grown by an average of 20% every year since.
The Butts Community Savings Bank was started as a pilot five years ago by the Fr. McGrath Family Resource with support from members of St. Canice’s Credit Union, Michael Walsh, Marius Cassidy and Teasie Brennan and the manager of MABS, Michael Saunders. And with ahuge emphasis on getting children and young people to save it isa huge success and unlike major financial institutions it has the welfare of the people it serves at its core.
It was soon followed by Newpark Close Family Centre and now nine community banks are in operation across Kilkenny and Carlow and many families have used them to help pay for Christmas and to avoid getting into debt. All four family resource centres in Kilkenny City and County now run community savings banks.
Chairperson of the Fr. McGrath Centre, Pat Brennan, thanked the volunteer tellers who gave up time every week over the forty eight weeks to make the service available to local families and children.
Ansd in many cases it has kept legal and illegel moneylenderso ut of housing estates in the ccity, Callan, Castlecomer, urlingfdord and Bagenalstown.
Volunteer Bank tellers Trish and Irene King, Anne Marie Clifford, Pat McAuley, Michelle Byrne, Teasie Brennan, Carmel Joyce, Joe O’ Grady and treasurer David Barry wished their 450 members a very happy Christmas as they handed out the largest sum in savings in the history of the Bank. There was a festive sprirt around the community hall in the Butts revelled in the atmosphere.
The Bank expects that more than 90% of this considerable six figure sum will be spent locally and help create local jobs in Kilkenny and to protect existing jobs and businesses continue to struggle.
Many of their members are local children and it is a key objective of the project to get children into the savings habit from their earliest years.
Director of Services at the Fr McGrath Centre, Stephen Murphy, said that one of the most important objectives of the community scheme was and is to get children into the saving habit from their earliest years. “This has been very successful and now nearly half of our members are children and more are joining every year,” he said.
‘Families are also learning that a smart way to deal with Christmas and other big family events during the year is to save a little money each week in their community bank. This has meant a lot more local families don’t have to borrow from extortionist agencies lending money and charging criminal interest rates to people who have nowhere else to turn.’ he added
Chairperson Pat Brennan said that the volunteers running this project every week throughout the year deserved rich praise for the very valuable service they were providing to their neighbours. He added that it was an example of communities at their very best when they co-operated and worked together to support each other.
The Butts Community Bank will reopen the first week of January 2013 but next year they will change from Thursday to Friday as the weekly savings night at the centre. New members are always welcome, especially children.