St Barnabas Church in south Liverpool is on the corner of Penny Lane, the street made famous by the catchy Beatles tune. However the title of the song is not the only link that the church has with the fab four - as a boy, Paul McCartney sang in the church choir.
Penny Lane is now a place of pilgrimage for the thousands of Beatles fans who visit Liverpool every year, and many stop to have a photo taken next to the famous street sign. St Barnabas church probably features in the background of many of these mementoes and some tourists even take the time to step inside the doors of the church where they receive a warm welcome. The church marks its connection with the Beatles every August during a city-wide music festival by hosting an exhibition of local history and Beatles memorabilia and a music concert of Beatles songs.
As well as celebrating the success of its famous ex-chorister, St Barnabas has its own story to tell of a century at the heart of its community. It's because of this commitment that every Tuesday, alongside a coffee morning, the church hosts a branch of Lodge Lane & District Credit Union. This partnership was initiated in 2013 when credit union volunteer Marie Gray called into the church and met congregation member Jeff Hall. Marie explained that the credit union had been looking for premises for a new branch among the shops and businesses of nearby Allerton Road but that this had proved to be too costly. However with the support of St Barnabas' PCC Jeff arranged for the credit union to open a weekly pop-up branch in the church as part of St Barnabas Community Outreach Programme.
The church credit union branch, open every week of the year, is run by volunteers from the credit union and offers a full service: registering new members, receiving deposits and processing loan applications. A large colourful poster on the church railings advertises the service which attracts people from the parish and further afield. Jeff Hall believes that community branches are vital for credit unions who often rely on word of mouth and neighbourhood access points rather than large advertising and marketing budgets.
With the support of Julia Webster, Church Credit Champions Coordinator in Liverpool, St Barnabas is now hoping to extend its Tuesday morning community services by hosting the Citizens Advice Bureaux alongside the credit union branch and church coffee morning.
Lodge Lane & District Credit Union celebrated it's 25th Anniversary in February 2014 and a few months later welcomed it's 5000th member who joined at the St Barnabas branch. The credit union has two other community access points and a main branch.