11 June - Loan shark victims urged to speak out during Middlesbrough Campaign
Loan sharks are to be targeted in a week long campaign heading to Middlesbrough
Loan sharks are to be targeted in a week long campaign heading to Middlesbrough.
The England Illegal Money Lending Team working in partnership Middlesbrough Council and other local agencies are launching the campaign in the week commencing today (11th June) to raise awareness of the dangers of borrowing from illegal money lenders and encourage victims to report the crime.
The week focused around the Thorntree area, will see awareness sessions on the issue of loan sharks hosted by the Team for local agencies and residents, leaflets with information on avoiding loan sharks delivered to homes and to TBN credit union customers, beer mats with the hotline number for reporting loan sharks in local pubs and banners and posters displayed throughout the community.
Key events to look out for and become involved with are:
- Training sessions aimed at local agency staff, to give them a greater understanding of the dangers of loan sharks in order to help anyone they meet in their day to day work who has been affected. The sessions will be held between 1.30pm and 4pm at Thorntree Community Centre on Birkhall Road on Monday 11th and Tuesday 12th June. Agencies already attending include Middlesbrough Social Services, Stonham Housing and Sanctuary Carr- Gomm.
- Awareness raising sessions open to the public. Come along to find out more about the dangers of loan sharks, and what to do if you find yourself in a loan sharks trap. These will take place on Wednesday 13th June between 1pm and 2.30pm at Thorntree Community Centre and also on Thursday 14th June between 1.30pm and 3pm at Community Ventures Limited, The Greenway, Thorntree.
- An advice day on Wednesday 13th June, between 10am and 1.30pm at Thorntree Community Centre, Birkhall Road, where representatives from the England Illegal Money Lending Team and other agencies will be on hand to answer any questions about loan sharks, benefit entitlements and other money matters.
To register your interest or make an appointment for any of the above events call 01642 802284.
- A free interactive performance by Theatre Group Shontel held on Thursday at 1pm in the Main Hall at Thorntree Youth and Community Centre. 'One Families Story'was devised to tell the real life experience of a loan shark victim. To book your place call 01642 729528. ( A crèche service is available)
- Representatives from the Team will be attending Party in the Park held at Thorntree park between 10am and 2pm on Saturday 16th June, offering information and advice to visitors.
- Drop in sessions held at Erimus Area Housing Office in the afternoons of Monday 11th, Tuesday 12th, Thursday 14th and Friday 15th June with advice on avoiding loan sharks, coping with debt, income maximisation and reducing expenditure.
The Team will also visit Caldicotes Primary School, with mascot 'Sid the Shark' to host an assembly on the dangers of loan sharks. It is hoped the children will gain an understanding of the crime in order to share what they have learnt with their families and know to avoid loan sharks in later life.
On Monday, Tuesday and Friday morning, representatives from the Illegal Money Lending Team will be visiting Thorntree Job Centre Plus to speak to visitors about the dangers of loan sharks.
Councillor Julia Rostron, Middlesbrough Council's Executive Member for Community Protection, said: "Loan sharks appear to offer handy solutions to people who need cash quickly, but if something looks too good to be true, that's usually exactly what it is.
"Family budgets are under unprecedented pressure and that makes people more vulnerable to these unscrupulous operators.
"What seems like a good deal can quickly leave people struggling to meet exorbitant interest charges and the original debt then spirals out of control.
"This is a timely initiative that will raise people's awareness of the risks and understand the options available to them."
Tony Quigley Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team said "Loan sharks have a horrific impact on individuals and communities. They will trap borrowers into a spiral of debt, adding extra amounts and exorbitant rates of interest, then resort to the most extreme and callous methods to enforce repayments. Campaigns like this enable us to raise awareness of the dangers of borrowing from loan sharks, and encourage those who have been affected by loan sharks to report them. Please call 0300 555 2222 to speak to us in confidence."
Nationally the Stop Loan Shark Project has secured over 210 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to 130 years worth of custodial sentences. They have written off almost £40 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 18,000 victims.
To report a loan shark:
Call the 24/7 confidential hotline: 0300 555 2222
Text 'loan shark + your message' to 60003
Private message us on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject
Log-on to www.direct.gov.uk/stoploansharks