GCS is ending fiscal exclusion for accountless

FEW of us could imagine life without a bank account. Indeed, the norm for many now is to have more than one – high street for mainstream use, salary payments and standing orders, and so-called online challengers such as Revolut or Wise for currency transfers and platforms like Chip for artificial intelligence-driven savings.

For those brought up in the days of Martins Bank – which was bought by Barclays in 1969 – this is a golden age of money management and ease of use: all at the touch of a button on a mobile phone app.

But what if you don’t have an account?

That is a social exclusion like no other, is generally hidden from view and, until recently, was largely absolute.

That’s because of the circumstances that lead to people either losing access to banking or having their application for one rejected.

No fixed address? No account. No passport, sorry the wrong identity. The consequences on those affected are profound – not least because what employer today will contemplate someone who doesn’t even have a bank account for their wages to be paid into?

Happily, there is help available to break a true vicious circle and one that an individual on their own is largely powerless to fight. The charity Guernsey Community Savings exists to ensure that each of its customers has an account, a seamlessly linked debit card, and a means of building up savings.

In short, a financial lifeline and a way of joining mainstream society, plus some friendly faces able to provide basic budgeting advice, and with the ability to make small loans available to help someone overcome a cash crisis.

In some respects, that’s the easy part and nearly 40 islanders have been helped by GCS back into financial inclusion.

The back story is one of determination to help those who have been fiscally marginalised and overcome all the many obstacles that presented during their journey.

It’s another example of how the charitable sector can significantly improve the lives of those overlooked by the rest of society.

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