Our loan shark work wins award
30 August 2012
The Trust and our partners are the Central Regional Winners of a Stop Loan Sharks award for our work in raising awareness of the crime of illegal money lending.
The Stop Loan Sharks awards are taking place for the first time this year, hosted by the England Illegal Money Lending Team and Wales Illegal Money Lending Unit, to recognise those who have made a valuable contribution to highlighting the dangers of loan sharks in their communities. An overall national winner will be chosen from the eleven regional winners on Tuesday 18th September.
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Along with other local partners, the Trust are continuing to raise awareness of the dangers of loan sharks in a variety of ways, ensuring that all the work we do links back to the Credit Union as a means to offer safe and legal loans and help create a savings culture.
We work alongside two local Credit Unions – FAIRshare Credit Union and Just Credit - and have helped them both increase their membership by over 25% in the last few years.
We also include information on avoiding loan sharks in all new tenant 'Money Matters' packs, and in a booklet entitled 'Making Ends Meet' which was produced in partnership with a number of local agencies. Over the last 12 months 1000 copies have been distributed to local residents via Job Centre Plus, through the Trust's local offices, through Telford & Wrekin Council, other local Housing Associations and the local NHS Primary Care Team.
The Trust have worked on awareness raising campaigns in the Brookside area of Telford and offered advice at local festival D'fest. We have also facilitated talks on the dangers of loan shark to our tenants, local police and local authority staff and other local groups including the 'Nifty Fifties' support and social group for older people.
Trust tenants have been inspired to raise awareness, distributing postcards and flyers in their local areas and attending a Community Advocate training course which highlights the dangers of loan sharks and why they should be avoided. Further course are planned to meet demand.
In March, due to the success of engaging tenants with this subject area, the Trust worked with Shontal Theatre Group to deliver a production, funded using proceeds of crime money, to tenants at our 'Tenants Unite' event.
This was followed with a further production at Ercall Wood Technology College to 30 Year 9 students later that day.
FAIRshare and Credit Union were invited to take part in workshops at both sessions and awarded the students with a loan shark 'Piggybank' to help kick-start their savings.
Deb Morrison, Financial Inclusion Manager at the Trust, said: "With the support from other local partners, our involved residents and the England Illegal Money Lending Team, we use every opportunity we can to raise awareness of the dangers of loan sharks and to promote the support that's available for victims.
We really understand the harm that loan sharks can have on our communities and actively promote local access to affordable loans and secure savings through the two Credit Unions that we work closely with.
We're really pleased to have been chosen as regional winners and hope that any extra publicity it generates locally will help us continue to get the message right into the heart of our communities."
Nationally the Stop Loan Shark Project has secured over 212 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to 134 years worth of custodial sentences. They have written off almost £40 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 18,000 victims.