Meet the people fighting to bring back cash

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

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by By Matt Patchett

‘I remember coming as a child, and it was just a bustling wee town. It’s decimated now.’ Angeline Coyle (pictured above) is talking about Cambuslang, a town five miles south-east of Glasgow, where she has lived for over twenty years, and where she runs her own café.

Walking around the town, you’ll find plenty of spots like Angeline’s to grab a coffee, but despite a population of almost 30,000, customers might be harder to come by.

‘I can look out the window and see Main Street and there’s hardly a soul on it’, says Hilda Allison a resident of Cambuslang for over 50 years, and member of its Community Council.

You may be tempted to think this is the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Hilda knows the problem is deeper than that: ‘There’s nobody there because there’s no banks.’

Cambuslang is home to some of the most deprived areas in Scotland, which have a high dependency of cash. It lost all three of its bank branches in the space of 18 months, starting in 2016.

If people need cash now, Hilda says, then they have to go to the next town over, Rutherglen, or even to Glasgow – taking their spending with them.

But Cambuslang’s Community Council is fighting back, piloting new ways for locals to access cash – which could help other affected communities in the UK.

Here we look at why cash access matters to these communities and the innovations they’re trialing to save it – innovations that could soon be coming to a town near you.

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