A CREDIT union has launched a new project to help people better manage money as lockdown eases.

Darlington Credit Union secured over £50,000 in funding from the National Lottery Community Fund to deliver a new project, named You are not alone: Managing money together.

The project, part of the firm's MoneySmart initiative, tackle problems with self-isolation, furlough and redundancies while providing vulnerable people and those who new to the stresses of debt with a friendly voice and guide.

This includes a dedicated helpline, with video calling for those who prefer, and a responsive website with educational tools, self directed training videos and progress reports.

The credit union, which has full-service functionality just like a bank as well as additional support for those who need it, hopes progress reports will help people stay on track financially and ensure people understand what they are being taught.

The site will also act as a directory for complimentary services.

The credit union's chief executive Tony Brockley said: "While credit unions were first set up to help the disenfranchised who struggled with normal banking and who cannot borrow money at decent rates, we are really modern, we have payroll services and saving schemes, including with Darlington Council.

"We lost the funding for MoneySmart last year and were looking to renew it but everyone was looking for projects to help deal with the fallout of coronavirus so we adapted our programme to do that."

For example, where the credit union would otherwise run workshops in small groups, this is now being done via online tutorials or one-to-one video sessions.

It will also work with partners and empower them to take vulnerable people through the online resources and training modules, of which there are 22, directly.

Mr Brockley is also looking to expand the service into schools, so teens and young adults can understanding different types of debt and its impact before they start being marketed at.

The money management project is set to go live by September 1 after around two months of work building resources and will be led by Emma Wilson, who focuses on financial inclusion.