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Credit union stalwart becomes MBE
A volunteer who helped establish a community lending scheme has been made an MBE in the New Year Honour's list.
Joy Park, 60, of Maple Road in Leytonstone, has been recognised for her services to Waltham Forest Community Credit Union (WFCCU).
The union helps people access fair credit at a reasonable cost and provides an alternative to high-cost short-term lenders.
Ms Park was nominated for the MBE by Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy, West Ham MP Lyn Brown, head of child survival at Save the Children, Simon Wright, credit union chairwoman Dawn Faniku and Alison Mackay, minister at the Leytonstone United Free Church.
Ms Park played a pivotal role in launching the credit union in 2003, but by 2005 it was struggling for funding and the majority of paid staff lost their jobs.
Ms Park then voluntarily took on the role of manager, a position she held for a year.
Ms Park dedicated the MBE to her colleagues.
"It's a great honour. I will be accepting this on behalf of all the other staff and volunteers who have worked so hard for the credit union to get to where it is today," she said.
Ms Park is a critic of payday lenders, who she believes do not act in the best interests of their customers.
She said: "The problem with payday lenders is they do not check if people are in a position to pay back the money they borrow.
"Borrowing money should never be instant and these lenders is not doing anyone a favour but making their living situation worse.
Speaking about her personal motivation for helping to start the credit union, she said: "I got involved because it helps to support society, to allow people to live with dignity and for them to afford things that other people take for granted."
Stella Creasy, who campaigns for restrictions on high cost lenders and supports credit unions, said: ""I've known of Joy and the work she does in Walthamstow for many years alongside all the other fantastic volunteers at the Credit Union.
"The Credit Union is a vital service in Walthamstow to thousands and so I was honoured to be asked to support her nomination by her colleagues. I'm delighted she has been given this award and I know many others in our community will be equally pleased to hear of her award- it is well deserved."
After dedicating more than a decade to the union, Ms Park retired in October 2013, the same month the union celebrated its tenth birthday.
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