As most people will be aware, credit unions play a key role in the financial landscape of local communities throughout the country, providing great value savings and loan products to their members on a not-for-profit basis. However, the Credit Union reach goes well beyond this.
Andrea Corroon, Youth Officer Mullingar Credit Union explained, “In MCU we believe that the Credit Union should support the wider community through financial and other means where possible. Since our amalgamation with Longford Credit Union in January 2020 we have worked with the local office in Longford town to extend our funding and other initiatives to the local organisations and schools in Longford.”
One of the initiatives that is being currently rolled out in the Longford area is the MCU Secondary School Fund. This fund was established to promote and support the education and talents of the young people in the local secondary schools and to help increase awareness of the Credit Union ethos of self-help among young people.
Ms Corroon remarked, “This initiative was developed in 2018 and to date over €125,000 has been given to secondary schools within the now extended MCU common bond area. We currently have twelve secondary schools participating in this initiative.
The principle of the funding application is that it must be student led. The student council must work with the school management to come up with projects that they would like to see completed in their school that would not normally be funded by the Department of Education or Parents Council.
The initiative aims to incorporate the ideas and views of as many of the students as possible. The students are encouraged to spend any allocated funding locally where possible, which has increased their awareness of the importance of keeping the fund in the community.
Some of the bigger projects over the last three years that have been supported by Mullingar Credit Union are funding towards a STEAM room (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics), Chromebooks, Sports pitch dugouts, 3D printers, funding towards an all-weather sports court, refurbishment of changing rooms, iPads, GAA team kits, Outdoor seating and many more.
Ms Corroon said, “This year, MCU are delighted to welcome three new Longford town schools to the scheme. Meán Scoil Mhuire who received funding of over €3,600 for outdoor seating, Templemichael College who received funding for over €3,500 for outdoor seating and St Mel’s College who received funding of €3,500 towards Chromebooks.
“It is a great way to reinforce the relationship and interdependency of the Credit Union, the community, and the schools and particularly the student whose involvement in the selection of projects is vital to the success of the programme.
“Like every other business, Covid-19 has had a huge impact on the Credit Union’s operations and funding. However, this initiative has proved to be very successful and has been supported and appreciated by the schools and the students and we would hope to be able to continue with this fund in the coming school year.”
Another funding initiative which has been ongoing in Mullingar Credit Union for many years is the Social and Cultural Fund which offers financial support to voluntary groups within the common bond area.
Like the secondary school fund this scheme is now available to organisations in the Longford area.
The fund available this year is €135,000 and the Committee responsible for the allocation of these funds will very soon be placing advertisements in the local papers calling for applications for funding from voluntary organisations within the common bond area.
On a slightly different note, readers may have noticed that at the recent annual general meeting of Mullingar Credit Union the members voted to change the Credit Union name to North Midlands Credit Union reflecting the expanded geographical area now contained in the credit union common bond area, particularly since the merger with Longford Credit Union. It will be later in the year before this change takes effect.