Community bank opens in church
A community bank will be held in a church vestry every week to help people manage their money.
The Bishop of Dover, Trevor Willmott, and two members of the congregation of All Saints Church in Sittingbourne, Kent, were the first to open an account when the Murston Community Bank, which is part of credit union Kent Savers, opened today.
The community bank will open each weekday morning between 10am and 12, a spokeswoman for the Diocese of Canterbury said.
Visitors will also be able to enjoy a cafe, free wifi, access to a Citizens Advice Bureau representative, banking and debt advice, and pastoral and spiritual support.
Volunteers from the church have received training from Kent Savers and will help customers open accounts, withdraw small cash amounts using a passbook and apply for loans.
The Diocese of Canterbury joined with Kent Savers last October; a move 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 own members, and run on a not-for-profit basis.
Assistant Curate 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."
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's testament to the excellent partnerships which have been forged, and the generous amounts of good will 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."