Credit Unions and Responsible Credit

CreditWise was established in 2014 to help and support churches and communities to enable access to responsible credit for everyone living and working in our diocese.   CreditWise is led by Caroline Clarke, and her team.

The CreditWise team will help, support and provide training to enable churches and their ecumenical partners to achieve this, and/or to open outposts of their local Credit Union.  

We have engaged with Credit Unions, advisors, schools and churches and have been involved in projects to help local communities. If you are thinking about such a project, do contact us for a discussion. 


Keston Church and Keston Church of England Primary School are piloting the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby’s  LifeSavers project:  a financial education programme and school-based savings clubs, where children are encouraged to save small, regular amounts of money and gain practical experience of handling money, combined with a set of accredited resources  and a whole community approach to involving parents in their children’s financial education.

Resources and information about Credit Unions, Responsible Credit and the LifeSavers project are available on the To Your Credit website:



 Wedding and Credit Unions

Vicars in the Diocese of Rochester are to offer help to couples as they plan their weddings.

Rev Canon Jean Kerr said, “Credit Unions are for everyone. Simply put, credit unions are community savings and loans providers. The idea is that members mutually benefit as there’s no profit for third-party shareholders. For some, they can be a welcome alternative to payday loans or doorstep lending but they are open to all and the more people that join in, the more successful they will be. Vicars in the Diocese of Rochester will help couples to join their local credit union if that is something that may help them with their saving for the big day.”

The Diocese of Rochester has partnered with Kent Savers, Medway Credit Union and Greenwich and Bexley Credit Union to offer a free voucher to couples planning their weddings who would like to start saving with a credit union.  If borrowing for the wedding is necessary, a low cost credit union loan will be more affordable than other, higher interest loans.

The Rt Rev James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester said, “It is always a privilege to be a part of the celebration of marriage and we want to help and support couples as they plan.  I’m particularly pleased to be able to raise awareness of credit unions, because they are important in helping to build a community and counter financial exclusion.”

Couples interested in knowing more about how credit unions could help them with planning the finances around their wedding should contact their local Church of England Vicar. If they are not sure how to find their local vicar, they can visit


Kent Savers Credit Union:  for Kent, Medway and Bexley   T: 0333 321 9050

Lewisham Plus (Bromley)Credit Union:  for Bromley and Lewisham   T: 020 8778 4738

Greenwich & Bexley Credit Union:  for Bexley and Greenwich  T: 020 8855 4344

Medway Credit Union: for Medway and Swale  T: 01634 403335 

CMCU (Churches Mutual  Credit Union):


Christians Against Poverty (CAP):  there are CAP Debt Advice Centres in Bromley, Dartford, Erith/Thamesmead and Medway.   CAP is a national award winning charity releasing people from a life sentence of poverty, debt, unemployment and addiction. They provide free debt counselling, job seeker support, help with life controlling dependencies and free money management courses.  T:  0800 328 0006

Community Money Advice (CMA): there is a CMA centre in Chislehurst.  Community Money Advice is completely free face to face money advice, reaching anyone in need with unconditional, quality advice from form filling to personal insolvency.  T: 01743 341929

Stepchange: Free expert debt advice.  Talk to an advisor, or use Debt Remedy, the online debt advice tool.   T: 0800 138 1111

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 Free expert debt advice.  Talk to an advisor, or use Debt Remedy, the online debt advice tool.   T: 0800 138 1111

West Kent Debt Advice:  West Kent Debt Advice operates throughout West Kent from its centres in Sevenoaks, Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells, and has around 100 volunteer advisers who are trained to help people through the process of sorting out their money issues and helping them back on the road to financial stability by providing counselling, advice, and practical help.  (email link on website)

USEFUL REPORTS:  these are available to download from the To Your Credit website:

  • Money speaks louder than words: Credit Unions and the role of the Church in tackling financial exclusion, Church Urban Fund
  • Building an ethical financial system: The role of Credit Unions, Church Urban Fund
  • God and the moneylenders:  Faith and the battle against exploitative lending, The Centre for Theology & Community
  • Restoring the balance: Tackling problem debt,  The Centre for Social Justice
  • Maxed out: Serious personal debt in Britain, The Centre for Social Justice
  • Indebted lives: The complexities of life in debt, The Money Advice Service
  • Payday lending: Fixing a broken market, ACCA
  • Jumping the shark: Building institutions to spread access to affordable credit, IPPR
  • Future Finance: A new approach to financial capability, Centre for Social Justice
  • Mind the finance gap: evidencing demand for community finance, CDFA
  • Inside Community Finance: The CDFI Industry in the UK 2014, CDFA
  • Financial Inclusion: Improving the Financial Health of the Nation, Financial Inclusion Commission
  • General Synod paper: Churches'  Mutual Credit Union, Church of England
  • Meeting the Need for Affordable Credit, Carnegie Trust
  •  Gaining Interest: A new deal for sustained credit union expansion in the UK, Political Economy Research Centre
  • The Debt Trap: Exposing the impact of problem debt on children, The Children's Society
  • Who bears the burden? Christian theology and the impact of debt on children, The Children's Society
  • Playday not payday: Protecting children from irresponsible payday loan advertising, The Children's Society

For more information on any of the above contact Caroline Clarke, Diocesan Community Engagement Advisor, by phone 07703 103366 or by email


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