(LASA) CREDIT UNION WINS FUNDING GRANT FROM BARCLAYS COMMUNITY FINANCE FUND

Loans and Savings Abertawe (LASA) Credit Union is celebrating its success having been selected from dozens of applications from across the UK to be awarded £26,000 from The Barclays Community Finance Fund.

Transact, the national forum for financial inclusion, which manages the fund, worked with a panel of independent experts to reduce nearly 80 high quality applications to just six successful projects.

Established in 2002, the credit union based in Swansea, has 2,000 members and will use the funding to expand LASA's Prison Project providing access to credit union services to prisoners, helping to foster self-respect, financial security, and reduce repeat offending.

Denis Greenall, LASU Credit Union Manager, said:- " This is a fantastic achievement for Swansea's Credit Union. We will continue to help and support all members of our Community, and it is pleasing to have our project recognised by Barclays bank in this way."

Barclays has committed £1 million over 3 years to the Barclays Community Finance Fund to support the delivery of affordable credit. As part of our commitment to financial inclusion, the fund is targeted at organisations that support individuals who may otherwise be restricted to accessing high cost credit or taking out illegal loans

Mervyn Owen, Barclays Retail Banking Area Director for Swansea, commented: "The applications this year were of a particularly high standard, there were so many innovative, interesting project ideas it was an extremely difficult process cutting them down to those we were able to fund. This is a great opportunity for LASU Credit Union to use the funding to support its next steps towards increasing membership, sustainability and growth. We hope that the lessons that they learn this year will provide important knowledge to share with the entire sector."

Projects are funded over 12 months to develop and continue work to increase access to affordable credit.

The Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales West Peter Black added:

"This is exactly the kind of practical project that is needed to assist prisoners to stay in touch with their families whilst serving their sentences. It also gives them easy access to basic banking facilities to help them when they are released.

Providing prisoners with these accounts means that they can help with family expenses whilst serving their sentences, access their own savings upon release, and have somewhere safe to have their wages and benefits paid.

This joint initiative between HMP Swansea and LASA Credit Union promotes swift integration into the community which is one of the keys to making re-offending less likely.

That is why I welcome the recognition that this award brings."

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