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LONDON, England -Shopping until you drop behaviour and the large debt burdens that typically follow is not just a problem of the United States. Consumer debt is an international problem, and in England the Archbishop of Canterbury sees credit unions as a viable alternative to loan sharks and lack of knowledge on how to handle private finances. The 54-year old Archbishop is the spiritual head of some 70 million Anglicans and heads the See of Canterbury which has been in existence since 597. He has often taken controversial positions on social issues. In an article in the Daily Mail entitled “Debt and the terrible price families pay,” Dr. Rowan Williams said, “Credit Unions offer a realistic option that will offer people manageable credit terms and help train them in keeping on top of their problems. In some areas they work also to develop habits of saving. They depend on volunteers – when I lived in Wales, the local churches took an active interest in this and were able to supply a pool of willing helpers. Any community can set up such a scheme if it can raise enough people to sign up to the very small initial contribution.” He deplored the ease of getting credit by saying, “The amazing boom in consumer credit of all kinds invites some of the most vulnerable in our society to plunge further into debt -and this is the worst possible news for families.” Willaims said that 70% of the marriages that breakdown were weakened by financial problems. The Archbishop praised the British governments plans to improve announced consumer credit rules, but added, “The plans are fine as far as they go (and more are promised) but they miss some of the underlying threats. Williams deplored the pressure on people to relentlessly incur more debt and said, “We need better guidelines to steer people towards the sort of good financial management that will safeguard the family’s stability.” To further show his support of credit unions Williams has thrown his backing behind Waltham Forest Credit Union, which will open next month in two shop fronts. The first credit union to open under a mixed common bond, it will draw membership of anyone in any church, temple of mosque living in the Waltham Forest Area. Williams will be at the official opening. [email protected]

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