Kent

Sittingbourne church opens community bank

The first community bank to open in a church in Kent has started trading in Sittingbourne.

The Murston Community Bank is operating at All Saints Church as part of the credit union Kent Savers.

It will provide savings accounts and an alternative to payday loan companies, offering an APR of 26.8% as well as pastoral and spiritual support.

Church volunteers will run the bank, which will also work with 15 partners such as Citizens Advice.

The launch of the bank follows the Diocese of Canterbury's partnership with Kent Savers in October 2013.

'Huge enthusiasm'

That was inspired by the Archbishop of Canterbury's call for the Church to be more proactive against debt and payday lenders.

Kent Savers is owned and controlled by its members, and run on a not-for-profit basis.

Assistant curate the Reverend Lesley Jones said: "People in the community have told me they are struggling with money, debt, isolation and that they need help.

"This is our response as a church, we want to help in practical ways where we can, and by opening Murston Community Bank as a local branch of Kent Savers we can do that."

The Reverend Canon Caroline Pinchbeck, director of the Diocese of Canterbury's Communities and Partnerships Framework, said: "This community bank is evidence of the huge enthusiasm and need there is for this initiative within the community.

"It is a testament to the excellent partnerships which have been forged, and the generous amounts of goodwill which have enabled building work, printing and the provision of other resources to take place.

"As a diocese, we hope that Murston Community Bank will become a model to replicate, and that it will resource other churches across the county."

The bank is open each weekday morning between 10:00 and 12:00.

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