Actor Michael Sheen to open new Leith credit union

Actor Michael Sheen is to officially open the new credit union branch on Great Junction Street.
Actor Michael Sheen is to officially open the new credit union branch on Great Junction Street.
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Movie star Michael Sheen is to open a new branch of a credit union in Edinburgh.

The Hollywood actor and social campaigner is to promote the work of Castle Community Bank by officially launching its new premises at 49 Great Junction Street.

It comes after he announced in March that he is planning to “scale down” his acting career and devote more time to the causes he supports.

Gordon Buchanan, general manager of Castle Community Bank, said: “Sometimes people mistakenly believe that credit unions are only there for emergencies or for people who are on benefits – but nothing could be further from the truth.

“In fact, every day we provide loans to ordinary people and families across Edinburgh and Lothians, enabling them to do the things they want in life – create or improve their family homes, buy a car or to help prepare for and manage life events, like having a baby or planning their wedding.

“We are constantly working to raise our profile and get that message out to more and more people, who may otherwise find themselves falling into a cycle of problem debt by taking out hire purchase agreements or pay day loans at punitive rates of interest which they can’t really afford.

“It’s our very real hope that having Michael cutting the ribbon on our new branch will get our name in front of an awful lot more people who may be interested in finding out more about us and maybe using our services.”

Welsh-born Sheen, who is known for his roles in Frost/Nixon, The Damned United, The Queen and the Twilight series, was in Glasgow back in March to launch the End High-Cost Credit Alliance, which he founded as part of his work against high-cost lenders – particularly the so-called “pay-day loans” companies.

During the launch Mr Sheen explained that one of the biggest challenges was tackling the increasing burden of household debt.

The actor said: “People need affordable credit and lenders who are fair.”

Offering similar financial products as traditional banks, credit unions aim to make banking cheaper for people on low incomes and those who are unable to access the very best rates.

Castle Community Bank on Great Junction Street opened its doors last month, with Edinburgh North and Leith district MSP Ben Macpherson and MP Deidre Brock both visiting the new branch and voicing their support for the scheme.

The bank, which also has a pair of “walk in” branches in Niddrie and Wardieburn, was formed in 2015 following the merger of two long established credit unions in the Capital that served the districts of Craigmillar and North Edinburgh.

newsen@edinburghnews.com