THE All Wales Credit Union Support Programme (AWCUSP) is urging people in Barry to join their local credit union to take advantage of capped interest loans.

Credit Unions provide a viable alternative to high interest loan providers such asdoorstep lenders and pay day loan companies.

Cardiff and the Vale Credit Union Ltd, which serves the Barry area, is encouraging new members to join the credit union now in order to benefit from taking out loans before next Christmas.

Members can then begin saving and reap the benefits before the holiday season returns.

Credit unions work by building a structured saving and lending plan to help members manage their finances.

The plan encourages members to save as little as £2 a week at first, which in time will give them enough privileges to access low interest loans at a rate capped by law of 26.68 per cent - much lower than the thousands of per cent charged by payday and doorstep lenders.

Credit unions are financial co-operatives that are owned by their members, with all funds being kept within the communities in which they operate.

All credit unions in the UK are regulated by the Financial Services Authority and protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

Bill Hudson, programme manager of the AWCUSP, said: "Even people who saved throughout the year may have found Christmas expenses challenging.

"We want to encourage people to think twice about turning to credit cards, payday lenders and other high interest-charging creditors, and join their local credit union instead.

"As an alternative form of banking, credit unions allow their members access to low interest loans while providing competitive options for saving. For many people, joining a credit union will mean a New Year without mounting debt."

Cardiff and the Vale Credit Union Ltd operates the following community collection services in Barry:

* Barry Civic Offices, Holton Road - Monday 10am-1pm

* Barry Library, King Square - Tuesday and Thursday 10.30am-12.30pm

* Gibbonsdown and Court Communities First Centre - first Wednesday every month 11am-12.30pm and 1pm-2pm

Staff and volunteers are on hand to offer advice and with no arrangement fees and no hidden costs, members can feel safe in the knowledge that they will gain better control over their money this year.

For more information about joining, contact 029 2087 2373.

If you live outside the area, you can find your local credit union by visiting or calling 0808 129 4050.