All Saints Church in Murston, Sittingbourne is Kent’s first community bank to open inside a church. It is a model likely to be followed across the country as churches respond to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s call to be more proactive against debt and payday lenders.
The Murston Community Bank has been set up in partnership with the local credit union, Kent Savers, and can provide savings accounts and loans. The bank is run by volunteers, trained by the local credit union, and opens for two hours each weekday morning. It operates from behind a moveable counter in the vestry which offers customers some privacy.
In addition to the banking services the parish has opened a small café, and free wifi is also available, so that customers can spend time in the church, access pastoral care or make use of wider advice and support such as the Citizens Advice Bureau (see more information on these here).
With the help of The Diocese of Canterbury, and the lead of their assistant curate, the parish established their bank within three months. Necessary alterations were minimal, including installation of CCTV and a moveable desk which the Archdeacon authorised as De Minimis, and therefore not requiring a Faculty. The parish at Murston has illustrated that the process can be simple and not only does the result bring support to those in the community struggling with money, debt and isolation, but it opens an opportunity to bring people inside the church too.
The Diocese of Canterbury has some tips on how other churches can set up community banks, click here.