Jenny Fribbins interviews John Fagan from DABD

LBBD council, being keenly aware of the way in which debt affects the lives of many residents in the borough, approached BD Collective to ask for help in putting them in touch with other organisations in the borough who would be interested in exploring the idea of affordable credit.

This steering group is a mix of sectors, including DABD and BDCAB from the social sector.

One of the key issues being explored is how we disrupt the loan shark/pay day loan market and find a credible way for people caught in that trap to access affordable credit. This is not as easy as it sounds and it’s vital that messaging to people comes from people they trust or know, rather than statutory agencies.

The plan is to partner with an existing, proactive Credit Union to extend their operations to cover B&D. This will build trust with local people and increase access to more affordable sources of credit and fairer financial services. The Group is also exploring what is needed to change behaviour, build capacity for money management and see people free from huge interest repayments.   

The aim here would be to create a Community Banking offer, a means of obtaining credit in a way that helps to lift those who use it out of debt, rather than plunging them into further difficulties.

This week I spoke to John Fagan, who works for DABD, a charity that provides a range of support and services including welfare benefits &  financial advice, who is supporting the Steering Group to explore an affordable credit system in our borough.

John, who has worked in the private sector for most of his life, has never had the opportunity to work cross-organisationally in this way, and has found it refreshing and ultimately an enjoyable experience.

One of the key differences we noted in our conversation was the shift between the old system of the most powerful organisation gets their way and when they hand out favours, they expect allegiance in return, to a currency of relationship, where trust and value for each other’s organisations creates a healthier borough.

You may not feel there is much difference, but from my perspective, a currency of relationship gives a chance for even the smallest organisations to have a seat at the table. They may not have much ‘power’ by traditional standards, but they are given a voice and can therefore influence the way things are done.