Black History Month acknowledges the Windrush generation’s pivotal impact on British credit union movement

By cunews posted 30-10-2020 10:47:44



For nearly 40 years, Black History Month has been celebrated in the UK. It’s a time to reflect on the diverse histories and achievements of Black people and their extraordinary contributions to society, even in the face of long-standing challenges and injustices.  

The Caribbean Windrush generation have been pivotal to the early development of the credit union movement in the UK.  The first credit union to be established in Britain under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act was a credit union founded by Caribbean Windrush migrants. Hornsey Cooperative Credit Union was founded in 1964 as a remedy to the discrimination that Caribbean migrants were facing from the banks and financial institutions of the day.

 One of its founders was Basil Lewis, Basil went on to become the first Black councillor in Haringey in 1968. Hornsey Cooperative Credit Union was one of the longest serving credit unions in the UK history of credit unions - merging with London Capital Credit Union in 2013 after 49 years of service to its local community.  

At the Pentecostal Credit Union (PCU), its history is close to its heart and  the team places great importance on remembering those who have paved the way for the leaders of today  

In 1955 a 17-year-old boy recently arrived from Jamaica visited his local Anglican Church. At the end of the service the vicar thanked him for coming but asked him not to return. That boy was Carmel Jones -founder of The Pentecostal Credit Union.

This week, the current Vicar of St Paul’s, Rev Jonathan Boardman presided over a moving and heartfelt service of Absolution for the act of racial exclusion perpetrated in that place in 1955. Rev Jones attended the service by Zoom and his address was read to the Church by his daughter Elaine Bowes. In accepting the apology Rev Jones said that he had forgiven that act of humiliation many years ago and viewed the event as positively life altering and led him to The Pentecostal Church, to him meeting the woman that would be his wife of 63 years and had provided the inspiration for him founding The Pentecostal Credit Union 25 years later. 

Commenting on the Windrush’s impact on today’s sector, Chief Executive of PCU, Shane Bowes said: “Pentecostal Credit Union is proud to follow in the footsteps of Hornsey Co-operative Credit Union as another Windrush success story – another successful credit union founded by members of the Windrush Generation.   

“In a similar fashion PCU was founded by Rev Carmel Jones in 1980 as a result of the discrimination and exclusion experienced by Black communities in the access and delivery of mainstream financial services. 2020 is our 40th anniversary year and we are proud to have established PCU on the age old African and Caribbean principles of its cooperative movement – people helping people through community financing. Happy Black History Month” 

Commenting on the impact of Black History Month, ABCUL CEO, Robert Kelly said: “It is a real opportunity to take the time to promote a better understanding of Black History and to recognise the remarkable achievements of black people and black communities all across the country in sometimes exceptionally challenging circumstances.

“The pioneers of our great movement in this country came from black communities and their achievements in leading by example amongst many hardships and struggles were underpinned by the core values that we continue to hold dear today – people helping people, co-operation, resilience, empowering communities and fair and equitable finance.  Their legacy is our vibrant sector today”.



06-11-2020 12:23:54

What a great write up of the involvement of the people from the Caribbean community of Great Britain and I hope their stories can be recorded with the Save & Sound Project  as their style of credit unions was established in many towns and cities.

Jim C.