THE county’s community bank is celebrating a record year by expanding its services in Tynedale.

The not-for-profit Northumberland Community Bank, which started life as Tynedale Community Bank in 2015, will run weekly sessions at the Miners Lamp Cafe and Community Hub in Prudhoe from Tuesday, April 7.

The bank has grown significantly since its launch and, through the merger with the Credit Union for South East Northumberland in 2017, it now covers the whole county and has more than 2,250 active members.

More new members than ever joined and significant employers, such as Northumberland NHS Foundation Trust, entered in to a payroll partnership to enable staff to benefit from the services the bank offers through salary deduction, making 2019 a record year for the bank.

Alongside issuing over 800 loans in the past 12 months, the launch of a smartphone app and the implementation of a dividend to savers scheme saw staff numbers expand.

Members of the bank were visited by Hexham’s MP Guy Opperman, a founding member of Tynedale Community Bank, who was full of praise for the work it does across Northumberland.

Mr Opperman continues to lend his support to the scheme.

He said: “It has been an amazing year for the Northumberland Community Bank and I wanted to offer my congratulations to Lauren, Mark and the team who do such a fantastic job.

“The community bank is a beefed-up credit union, and it offers a vital service. It helps people build their financial resilience by both encouraging saving and also supplying them with access to responsible, affordable lending when they need it.”

Lauren Langton, the bank’s chief executive, was bowled over by the success of the scheme.

She said: “Our goal is to be self-sustaining, providing a service to our community into the future. This is an ambitious goal that almost no community-based credit union has achieved.

“Over the past three years, we have tripled our earned income and more than doubled our loan book.

“By employing industry leading technology, we plan to keep expanding and to continue to help local people across Tynedale.”

She continued: “As one of the founders of the Tynedale Community Bank, Guy has been a keen supporter of this service and a great advocate for us as we seek to grow and improve our offer.”