Richard Graham MP Nominated for Set-up of Gloucestershire Credit Union
London, UK – March 5, 2015 – Richard Graham MP for Gloucester has been shortlisted from over 100 candidates this year for the 3rd Annual Grassroot Diplomat Initiative Award. The award recognises outstanding politicians and diplomats who are representing civilian interests at the highest level in areas of policy, social and business overall. Mr Graham is nominated for setting up the local Gloucestershire Credit Union.
With a population of roughly 600,000 residents, Mr Graham noticed how very few credit unions existed in Gloucestershire. With 10,000 people living in social housing, many of his constituents were vulnerable to become reliant on pay day lenders who are known to charge unaffordable interest rates.
Through the acquisition of a secondee from the Department of Work and Pensions, Mr Graham went about to create the Gloucestershire Credit Union, a wholly volunteer-run organisation as an alternative means for consumers to get access to cheap credit and avoid loan sharks. This was formed by merging five small credit unions and was launched in March 2011.
The objective behind the credit union was to allow anyone who lives or works in Gloucestershire to become a member of the Gloucestershire Credit Union, regardless of age, employment status, or income. The credit union is set up as a cooperative, with individuals paying into the service, and members are the owners and managers of the entity which is run democratically. The money accrues as savings and individuals can then apply for small loans that feature low interest rates.
Mr Graham has spoken out a number of times in Parliament about tackling loan sharks and using credit unions as a way forward. He notes that the task ahead is to work on reducing the amount of credit that is made available through payday lending, and ultimately putting a “squeeze” on loan sharks.
The Gloucestershire Credit Union is accessible via the county’s library, providing easy access to a great number of constituents to use and learn more about this alternative lending solution. To help strengthen the foundation of the union, Mr Graham has also facilitated relations with Lloyds and Barclays Bank to recruit resources to provide additional input to the strategy to safeguard the future for this local institution. The MP is is keen to create a pay day free community and as a strong believer in the role of the voluntary sector, he is putting much energy into recruiting eager volunteers to help run the union.
In addition to this, Mr Graham has helped run the British High Commissioner in Nairobi’s Small Aid Projects which financed small women’s groups before micro financing became fashionable. He is also involved in many social enterprises to include Care for Children, Gloucester Rotary Community and Youth Committee, and the Gloucestershire Community Foundation where he serves as Trustee.
Talyn Rahman-Figueroa, Executive Director of Grassroot Diplomat, said: “All too often, we hear stories of our governments not representing our needs but Grassroot Diplomat looks upon selfless individuals who work tirelessly for their communities. The award seeks to create a culture of positive role models within our governments which encourages others in power to follow suit.”
Join Richard Graham MP and other government nominees for the gala dinner at The May Fair Hotel, London on Thursday 5th March 2015. For ticket information please visit: http://www.grassrootdiplomat.org/book-tickets or call 07511 816689.
Further details about the awards can be found on: www.grassrootdiplomat.org/annual-awards
About Grassroot Diplomat
Grassroot Diplomat is a non-profit diplomatic consultancy with the mission to facilitate trust and better communication between governments and civil society. As an independent agency, Grassroot Diplomat shows no allegiance to a solitary government but will act in the interest of the people, no matter where they are or what state their country is in. We do this by developing, strengthening, and facilitating relationships between governments and civil society stakeholders on a project-by-project basis.
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