“NILS really helped us to be able to get to where we are now”

“NILS really helped us to be able to get to where we are now”

Gerry stumbled across the No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) while volunteering at Good Shepherd Marrickville and has since established a fulfilling career in microfinance. Peter met Gerry when he applied for a NILS loan to replace his family’s TV and washing machine, which broke down at the same time.

We asked Gerry and Peter what NILS meant to them, and about the important relationship between the NILS worker and client. Here’s what they told us.

Peter’s story

“Looking back on where I was 5 years ago; my wife was at uni and I wasn’t working, I was looking after our daughter as well as being a part time carer for my mother. The TV and washing machine broke down around the same time. It was just so important for us as a family to be able to get the necessities you have to have.

NILS really helped us to be able to get to where we are now. My wife is a minister now and I do a lot of different things. I’m a trainer and a motivational speaker so I do workshops and training on being the best you can be.

The NILS loan experience was a very positive one and a humbling one. Gerry was very understanding. She makes you feel that it’s not embarrassing to take out these loans.

It’s like she understands that we’ve all have had tough times in life and its ok. She reminds you that because you’re paying it back it’s not charity. You’re making a commitment to your future and this can put you back on the road to be able to save again.

These programs are really good. I believe that some payday lenders have monopolised the markets and they prey on people who are vulnerable and who don’t have information, knowledge and power. So the more we can promote that there are alternatives is how we can beat them.

I found Good Shepherd Marrickville to be a place where you’re valued, you’re welcome, this is home for you.”

No Interest loan Scheme (NILS) workers at a table in discussion with a client

Gerry’s story

“When I first met Peter I was struck by how positive he was and what a great advocate he was for NILS. He kept spreading the word and would bring other people back to apply for loans. He’d come with them to help them through the process so they didn’t feel intimidated.

Before coming here I never knew what microfinance was, I’d heard of it but I didn’t really understand it. So working here has really opened my eye to the benefits. One of the big reasons it’s so important is it provides a means for people to access credit and keeps clients away from payday lenders. It also gives them the opportunity to take control of their own finances.

My job is very rewarding, giving clients the cheque once the loan’s been approved is fantastic. It’s great because you know you’ve helped them with a regular savings habit and that might mean that one day they’ll clear their bad credit history and be able to get a loan at the bank.

I think the biggest thing I’ve learnt doing this job is that everyone has been through their own bit of difficulty in their life and you can’t make judgements on anyone’s situation. I accept everyone for who they are and I listen and accept their story. There’s no judgement whatsoever on my behalf.

It’s the clients that sometimes surprise me. Their dedication to pay back the loan has taught me a lot about people’s willingness to help themselves once the opportunity is made available to them.”

Good Shepherd Marrickville is one of 263 providers offering the NILS loans from 636 locations across Australia. To find out more about the No Interest Loan Scheme and to find your local provider, head to www.nils.com.au or call 13 64 57.
No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) worker Gerry discussing the program with client Peter

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