Volunteer Charlotte Rickwood has received a national award from the Credit Union of Wales for dedicating her time to promoting the ethical savings and loans movement throughout the Covid-19 lockdown period.

Charlotte, from Panteg, is considered part of the “lifeblood” Gateway Credit Union, which is based in Torfaen and Monmouthshire.

Charlotte said: “Credit unions saved my life because I was on the verge of depression due to money problems. They saved me in the beginning and have since grown into a family.

“Gateway Credit Union does a lot of positive things in the community by supporting people to manage their finances, help them keep their heads above water and offer services to people who would otherwise be excluded and forced to turn to loan sharks.”

Before the pandemic, Charlotte combined being a board secretary with being a member of the credit committee, a regular loan assessor and a ‘flying squad’ whenever someone was needed to cover a collection point.

With Covid-19 lockdown many volunteers were shielding, offices closed to the public and staff worked remotely.

Despite a busy family life and higher education studies, Charlotte kept working remotely on loan assessment, and helped to trial and develop the changes in process that are now giving us greater efficiency and a paper-free process for the lending team.

Gateway Credit Union manager Sara Burch said: “With her experienced and thorough approach to lending, Charlotte working remotely alongside the staff team, and contributed to a review of our lending policy and processes.

“As board secretary, she has also supported our less tech-minded board members through the move to online meetings with her usual calm efficiency.

“Charlotte is always an inspiration and someone to rely on. It’s hard to imagine Gateway Credit Union without Charlotte.”

Ms Rickwood is one of nine winners of this year’s Credit Unions Awards, which is sponsored by the Welsh Forum of the Association of British Credit Unions Ltd with support from the Welsh Government.

Robert Kelly, chief executive of ABCUL, said: “Theawards illustrate the commitment and dedication of businesses, workers, organisations, members and volunteers towards the global credit union movement.

“It shows how credit unions are building communities and helping people manage their finances for a better future."