THE role of credit unions in communities across Northern Ireland is explored in a new television series.
With more and more online financial services and many bank branches closing in rural northern towns, “The Borrowers” examines the personal histories of Credit Union members and loan officers.
With nearly 140 branches in the north, it supports local businesses and everyday savers.
Starting tonight on BBC One Northern Ireland, the three-part series has been filmed at credit union credit bureaus across Northern Ireland, including Ballymena Causeway and Warrenpoint, Burn and Rostrevor, with stationary cameras used to observe loan officers and members.
The creators of the program said, âIn rural communities, the credit union is more than just a lender of money to local businesses and it’s not always large sums of money that members need.
“This compelling series also reveals the personal stories of those who need a small injection of cash to meet the daily cost of living and to make it through the end of the month.”
In the first episode, the cameras follow Shannon Gordon and Charles Allen, who work at the Ballymena loan office.
At 24, Ms Gordon is one of the youngest loan officers in the north and meets a local personal trainer and former bodybuilder who wants a loan to expand his gym.
The episode also sees Mr. Allen interviewing a footballing teammate, who hopes to be successful with his loan application to pay for laser eye surgery.
In Warrenpoint, loan officer Louise White is in high spirits as local entrepreneur Brendan Carty seeks additional funds to expand his distillery business in the Morne Mountains.
Ms. White tells the program, âThe credit union is the heart of the community, when you’ve been there for 16 years you really know the members who join you.
“It’s great to support local businesses, the credit union is there to support local businesses, to help them whenever they can.”
Other episodes will see Ms Gordon lend a listening ear to a former Northern Ireland women’s football manager, who is eager to see a friendly face on his visit to Credit Union, while credit officer Mark O ‘Gorman in Warrenpoint meets a woman who left her teaching career to pursue her dream of becoming a full-time artist and explains why a small loan would help him diversify his business offering.
The Borrowers is on BBC One NI tonight at 10:35 PM.