A NEW project that uses boxing to teach families about loan sharks has been launched in Birkenhead.
Liverpool Housing Trust (LHT) and Beechwood, Ballantyne and Bidston Village Big Local (BBBVBL) are using the sport to teach youngsters and their parents about the dangers of using illegal money lenders and where to seek help if they have been the victim of crime.
The project is being supported by the Birkenhead Venture Boxing Club and the Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT).
The classes are designed to teach people about how to spot a loan shark, where to seek help and the alternative ways to borrow money safely.
Pictured: IMLT mascot ‘Glenda the Lender’ takes part in the Women’s only BOXFIT class
The project is being funded using over £1,500 of proceeds of crime money. This cash has come from loan sharks who have had all their available assets confiscated under money laundering laws.
Families attending the Boxing and Box-fit sessions are asked to wear Stop Loan Sharks t-shirts to promote the IMLT’s 24 hour victim hotline number (0300 555 2222).
Linda Finn, Chair at Beechwood, Ballantyne and Bidston Village Big Local, said:
“We are delighted to have received this grant from the Illegal Money Lending Team. The aim of this project is to get more people reporting loan sharks and stop these crimes that blight our residents’ lives, and this support will help us achieve this.”
Steven Garney, Social Investment Specialist at LHT – part of Onward – added:
“The Boxing Club is empowering local people by making them aware of the issues around loan sharks, bullying and social isolation.
“The sessions have been extremely popular with young people, while the female-only Box-fit class has surpassed all attendance expectations.”
More than 310,000 households in the UK are currently using illegal money lenders. Loan sharks destroy lives and can push victims to the brink of suicide due to the extreme misery they cause.
Loan sharks operate illegally, without the correct permissions from the Financial Conduct Authority. These criminals usually appear friendly at first but quickly trap their borrowers into spiralling debt. As the debts can’t legally be enforced many lenders will resort to the most extreme and callous methods to enforce repayment
Although there are no exact figures to prove how many loan sharks are operating in Wirral, the IMLT estimates that more than seven hundred million pounds is going through loan sharks’ books every year nationally.
Tony Quigley, Head of the Illegal Money Lending Team, said:
“We are pleased that money gained from the proceeds of illegal money lenders is being reinvested back in to community projects. These boxing sessions help avert families from using loan sharks and promote safe and regulated lenders such as Wirral Credit Union.
“We would always urge victims of loan sharks to seek help by contacting us in confidence on 0300 555 2222. For more information or to report a loan shark online, visit www.stoploansharks.uk”
Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 380 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 329 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £73.7 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 28,000 people.
To report a loan shark:
Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222
Text a report to 078600 22116
Visit the website www.stoploansharks.co.uk
Private message us on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject
Free Boxing Classes
BOXFIT (Females 13+ only) and Under 12’s Community Boxing Club (Boys and girls of all abilities ages 6-12 years)
Beechwood Recreation Centre