Forces for Change – Bank of Dave

Tony Hardman

31st January 2023

My Year 12 “wider reading” recommendation for Changing Places this week was simple and straightforward. Go on Netflix and watch ‘Bank of Dave’. I watched it myself on Sunday afternoon and it was a lovely, feelgood movie. Without wishing to plot spoil, the synopsis is simple - a local man wants to lend money to local people who are not able to borrow money from the traditional lenders.

Other agents of change exist, of course. National and local government can cause change by direct investment or helping with rebranding, reimaging and/or place marketing, and corporate bodies can move into an area and open new premises. But this is a story of a local person taking the initiative, using his personal approach to help out his local community. And it is a true story.

Burnley Savings and Loans (BSAL) was created by local businessman Dave Fishwick who had noticed that local people were finding it increasingly difficult to obtain loans from high street banks. Trading under the slogan 'Bank on Dave!', BSAL aimed to return to the basic model of old fashioned banking, essentially judging the applications and weighing up the risks on a case-by-case basis.. Fishwick also decided that any profits from the scheme should be put back into the community. Within 6 months of opening BSAL saw its first profits and donated them to a variety of different charities and good causes.

This old fashioned, common sense approach to banking has made an incredible difference to individuals and small businesses in the Burnley area, who otherwise would not have been able to access funding for projects. Burnley was a poster child for deindustrialisation and subsequent decline, and was named as the most deprived district within the Lancashire-12 area (comprised of 12 local authorities within the Lancashire County Council boundary). Without this much needed investment the already deprived town of Burnley would have faced an even bigger spiral of decline. Furthermore it also show that the banking industry can also be socially responsible by investing profits in the community rather than giving out bonuses to executives - it's a shame more banks don't operate this way.

In simple terms, Dave Fishwick is quite simply an agent of change, aiming to provide an investment opportunity for the people of Burnley, Lancashire, and by doing so helping to manage the perception of place, which many would say embodies the phrase 'it's grim up north'.

As an example of forces of change this story really is unique, and as a film it is really is worth the investment of 1 hour and 47 minutes of anybody’s time.

Tony Hardman

Tony Hardman is an experienced teacher and examiner of 20 years. He is Manchester (well Oldham) born and bred and is passionate about urban geography!

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