Michelle Sainsbury, of the Good Shepherd Youth and Family Service, and Lismore Neighbourhood Centre community development worker Rashid Habib at the launch of the no-interest loans scheme in December.
Michelle Sainsbury, of the Good Shepherd Youth and Family Service, and Lismore Neighbourhood Centre community development worker Rashid Habib at the launch of the no-interest loans scheme in December. Cathy Adams

No-interest loans go long way

YOU’D be amazed how many people think an overseas holiday counts as an ‘essential household item’.

However, reckless optimism from the foolish aside, the Northern Rivers new no-interest loan scheme, to help the poor with items such as fridges and freezers, has been a dazzling success.

Lismore Neighbourhood Centre community development worker Rashid Habib said the no-interest loan scheme, the first of its kind in regional NSW, had been so successful it was now being offered through the Byron Community Centre, the Kyogle Family Centre and the Grafton Food Bank.

The Ballina and District Community Services Association is expected to start offering the service next month.

There are also a growing number of specialist groups offering the loans to clients.

The loans of up to $1200 have proved so popular the scheme has started up its own 1800 number to free up the log-jam of calls coming into the Lismore Neighbourhood Centre.

Mr Habib said people were driving from as far away as Grafton to access the loans through Lismore Neighbourhood Centre, despite the Food Bank also being able to offer the loans.

The loans are available only to people who can pay them back and only for essential items.

“Most people are going for a fridge and a washing machine or a fridge and a freezer,” Mr Habib said.

“I don’t know how many people (we’ve given loans to), but it’s a lot.”

Despite the strict and well-publicised criteria for the loans, Mr Habib said there were a few people who had tried – in vain – to get money for other purposes.

“There have been lots of people ringing up, saying they want to go to America,” he said.

For information on the scheme, call 1800 509 994.

HAVE YOU BENEFITED FROM THE NO-INTEREST LOAN SCHEME?

SMS 0428 264 948 or email opinions@northernstar.com.au



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