Telford school scoops national award for raising awareness of loan sharks

Staff and pupils at Holmer Lake Primary School in Telford are celebrating after being named National Champions of the Stop Loan Sharks Awards.

The hotly contested award recognises the school’s prolonged campaign warning children about the dangers of falling prey to loan sharks when they grow up, and promoting alternative methods of borrowing to the community.

The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) launched a competition for children to design a banner to help raise awareness of the perils posed by loan sharks. The winning design is now on display at the front of the school.

Mayor of the borough of Telford and Wrekin, Councillor Stephen Reynolds, attended the awards ceremony earlier this week. 

IMLT mascot “Sid the Shark” presented Holmer Lake and Just Credit Union with their trophies and a £3,000 cheque.

The extra funding will be used on initiatives such as engagement with pupils and parents to highlight the dangers of unscrupulous lenders and encouragement for families to join the credit union – with cash incentives for those who continue to save.

Rachel Gillett, Holmer Lake Deputy Headteacher said: “We are thrilled to have received national recognition for our loan shark project. The children were so receptive to the theme and used their creativity to help spread the message. There is significant evidence that our pupils now have a greater understanding of debt, savings and interest, which can only support them with Financial Literacy in the future.”

Holmer Lake works closely with Just Credit Union to provide pupils with a savings club, which allows them to bank their pocket money at the school.

Councillor Reynolds added: “I would like to congratulate the staff and pupils at Holmer Lake Primary School on being named national champions at the Stop Loan Sharks Awards – this is a great achievement, not just for the school but the whole borough.”

An estimated 310,000 households nationally are borrowing from illegal money lenders.

Loan sharks prey on the most vulnerable and make people’s lives a misery using violence and intimidation to extract money at exorbitant rates of interest.

Tony Quigley, Head of the England IMLT congratulated the school and credit union on their success.

He said: “Holmer Lake School and Just Credit Union have shown real commitment to highlighting the issue of illegal money lending to their community. It is very important that young people learn about managing their finances – the better educated they are in this area the less they are likely to become victims of loan sharks later in life. I urge anyone who has fallen victim to this crime not to suffer in silence, but contact the team for help and support.”

Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 394 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 480 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £74.9 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 29,000 people.

To report a loan shark, call the 24 hour confidential hotline on 0300 555 2222, email reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk or complete a secure form here.