A unique financial services and affordable household and white goods store has opened in the former Millets store in Bolton’s Victoria Square.
The store, named ‘The Square’, is one of the first shops in the UK being to be opened by a council and its private-section partners.
Designed as an ethical alternative to high-street stores which offer high-interest weekly payments, the shop offers low-interest loans for its products and can direct people to the council’s money and benefit advisors.
The store was part-funded by a portion of the council’s £1 million anti-poverty fund.
Councillor Kate Lewis, Bolton Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Social Inclusion, said: “We’re really pleased that this store is now open.
“We hope that the combination of affordable household goods, financial services and money advice provided by the council, the credit union and its partners will assist people on low incomes with buying goods, without getting into further debt.”
Sections of the store will also be allocated to Hoot Credit Union, who offer ethical savings accounts, and Age UK, who opened the store along with Bolton at Home and the council.
David Batten, Hoot Credit Union’s manager, said: “The credit union does not just provide credit to people who are financially excluded or in debt, but is a safe and ethical place for anyone to save or borrow money, so we would encourage any residents looking for a new savings account or loan to come and chat to us.”
Lesser-known Age UK products, including insurance, funeral plans and energy packages will be offered alongside better-known services and general advice.
The store will also be a gateway to Age UK’s ‘Home from Hospital’ service, providing practical and emotional support for people who have just left hospital, and a ‘Befriending’ service, comprised of a network of lunch & leisure clubs.
Suzanne Hilton, Chief Executive of Age UK Bolton, said: “Why not come and see us in our new home at The Square to find out about everything that we have on offer through Age UK to make your later life a little more comfortable?
“While you’re there do join us in a cuppa at our Brew Station on the ground floor, where you can browse the literature or just have a chat with one of our friendly staff or volunteers.”