Residents invited to event to raise awareness of loan sharks in the run up to Christmas
Cash extorted from convicted loan sharks is being ploughed back into the Great Yarmouth community to help raise awareness of the issue.
Great Yarmouth Borough Council has teamed up with the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT), a specialist unit that investigates and prosecutes loan sharks, and partner agency DIAL to deliver a sand sculpture event to highlight the issues surrounding illegal money lending.
The fun-filled day, on Saturday, October 16, provides free sand sculpting activities for all the family as well as educating them about the dangers of using loan sharks.
Residents are invited to attend and engage with a range of help, advice, and support, whilst trying their hand at sand sculpting if they wish. The event, delivered by expert sand artists Sand In Your Eye, will take place on the Great Yarmouth seafront near Joyland between 11am and 4pm.
There will also be prizes up for grabs in a competition for the best shark sand sculpture.
Great Yarmouth Borough Council's Housing Income Service in partnership with DIAL were successful in applying for a grant from the Stop Loan Sharks Proceeds of Crime Fund to deliver the event to raise awareness of loan sharks across the borough.
The Income Service Team are undergoing specialist training in identifying the signs of illegal money lending and ensuring residents who are affected by the crime are safeguarded and supported.
Jo Howes, CEO for DIAL Great Yarmouth, said: "We want people to understand what the risks are with loan sharks, what alternatives are available for managing their finances and how they can avoid being exploited.
"With Christmas fast approaching and the increasing cost of living, it can be difficult to make ends meet. Many of our residents will have increased outgoings over the winter months and may have difficulty in paying their priority bills, such as their rent. We want to make sure that people know what help and support is available and the pitfalls of borrowing money from loan sharks."
Cllr Andy Grant, chairman of the Housing and Neighbourhood committee, said: "Winter can be a difficult time for many people money-wise, especially after the pandemic.
"We urge anyone who is in need of help and support with their finances to attend this event or contact the team at Stop Loan Sharks immediately."
This event has been funded by the IMLT using proceeds of crime money taken from convicted loan sharks.
Tony Quigley, Head of the England IMLT said: "Loan sharks prey on vulnerable people by charging extortionate interest rates then often harassing and intimidating borrowers for repayments.
"It is hugely positive to see the reclaimed extorted cash being put to excellent use through projects such as this which will help to highlight this horrendous crime in the borough.
"We encourage families to come along to the event to learn more about how to better protect themselves from loan sharks and make sand sculptures to help raise awareness of this issue in eye-catching and thought-provoking ways.
"Support is available to anyone affected by illegal money lending and we urge people to get in touch on our 24-hour helpline or via the website at www.stoploansharks.co.uk."
Residents are being urged to be on the lookout for the warning signs when dealing with loan sharks:
- Giving you no paperwork or agreement on a loan
- Refusing to give you information about the loan
- Keeping items until the debt is paid, such as your mobile phone or cash card
- Taking things from you if you don't pay on time
- Adding more interest or charges so the debt never goes down
- Using intimidation or violence if you don't pay
- Pretending to be your friend and turning nasty when payment is overdue
Call the Stop Loan Sharks 24 Hour Helpline on 0300 555 2222 to safely report an illegal money lender and access support online. Live Chat is available on the website between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.