A CREDIT union has branched out with the help of two Citizens’ Advice Bureaus in order to serve more customers who may be struggling with their finances.

Darlington Credit Union was set up in 2009, and in its first year had about 600 members with £120,000 in savings and £60,000 in loans.

It now has more than 4,000 members with nearly £1m of investment and a regular loan book balance of £3m to £4m.

The union has launched collection points in Northallerton and Richmond and the towns’ respective CAB offices, which are manned every Friday from 10am to 2pm, although the Northallerton office will be closed until August 15.

Darlington Credit Union office manager Jo Price said: “The new collection points have been open for about two weeks.

“We want to get the word out that we are there and able to help people set up savings accounts and apply for loans.

“We are a community savings and loans scheme so everybody who saves with us can apply for an affordable loan after eight weeks of regular savings.

“We can also offer budget and accounts services to anyone who struggles with their finances.”

The Credit Union is a financial co-operative so all members are share holders in the not-for-profit organisation.

Ms Price said: “Any money we make goes back to the members in annual dividends.

“It is a community organisation and we are effectively recycling money in the community.

“People who use our services may also be unwittingly helping other people in their community because all money saved with us can be used as a loan for someone else.”

All savings with Credit Union are protected under the FSCS (Financial Services Compensation Scheme) up to £85,000 per account, and the union paid a one per cent dividend on all savings for the last two years.

Darlington Credit Union chief executive Tony Brockley said: “We have taken the step to open in Northallerton and Richmond because we were receiving increased numbers of applications from both towns who were content to use the facilities provided in Darlington but that we believed deserved better; and because we felt we were at the right stage of our development to support such an initiative without jeopardising the work we are accomplishing in Darlington.”

Volunteers Margaret Heslop and Teresa Baker will be at the Richmond base and Malcolm Walton in the Northallerton centre.