Duchess set to declare union a credit to city
A SWANSEA credit union said to be the first in Europe to offer Sharia-compliant savings was due to receive a Royal seal of approval today.
The Duchess of Cornwall was scheduled to meet staff at LASA (Loans and Savings Abertawe) Credit Union and find out about its work with schools, Swansea Prison, and the members of the Muslim and Chinese communities.
Under Sharia law, Muslims must bank ethically, which means they are not allowed to either pay or receive interest.
LASA has been working with the Muslim Council of Wales and Islamic Banking Finance Company on this matter, and has received a Sharia Scholars' Certificate.
In practice it means Muslims banking with LASA do not pay or receive interest, but instead receive dividends.
The credit union is currently working on a Sharia-compliant loans scheme to help Swansea's 6,000-strong Muslim population.
The credit union said it was the only deposit-taking organisation helping the city's prison population and their families.
"On release, many inmates don't have a basic bank account," said LASA manager Denis Greenall.
"So we give them a prepaid debit card upon which their savings and state benefits can be loaded, upon their release. This card can then be used to buy goods and services."
The credit union was founded in 1992 to cover the Townhill and Mayhill areas of Swansea.
It now has 2,100-plus adult members and 600 junior members and savings amounting to £400,000.
It also has savings accounts for children at primary schools including Craigfelen primary, Clydach, where saving is part of the curriculum.
The Duchess of Cornwall has visited credit unions previously and was said to be impressed by the practical nature of the help they offer.
She has even opened an account with the London Mutual Credit Union to demonstrate her support.