Loan shark action week in Redcar and Cleveland

Families in the Redcar and Cleveland area are being offered advice about how to stay safe from loan sharks with a new week of action this month.

The week has been organised by the England Illegal Money Lending Team – known as Stop Loan Sharks – in partnership with Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, Cleveland Fire Brigade, Beyond Housing, Cleveland Police, Morrisons, and Guisborough Bridge Association.

Representatives will be out and about in the area every day next week, handing out advice and information about how to spot a loan shark, what to do if you have borrowed from one, and how to manage your finances safely.

Stop Loan Sharks Mascot Sid the Shark will also be on hand for selfies.

Tony Quigley, head of the IMLT, said: “If anyone in the area has any knowledge about illegal lending, or thinks they or someone they know may have borrowed from one, come and see us. We can offer confidential help and support.

“If you haven’t borrowed, but think you may need to, still come along. We can help you explore the safer alternatives available.”

On Monday, July 15, the team will be at Morrisons in Redcar from 11.30am to 1.30pm.

On Tuesday, July 16, at 1.30pm they will start at the Beyond Housing HQ and conduct a leaflet drop around the Dormanstown area, followed by visit to Dormanstown Primary School Summer Fayre.

On Wednesday, July 17, there will be an online training session from 10.30am to 11.30am – places can be booked on the Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council website.

The following day there will be an information stall at Guisborough Bridge Association, Westgate, from 10am. And on Friday, July 19, there will be a tour of venues and organisations in South Bank and Grangetown area, handing out leaflets and posters.

Councillor Ursula Earl, cabinet member of health, welfare and housing at Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, said: “We are proud to support the Illegal Money Lending Team in their mission to tackle illegal money lenders and provide help to the victims. Earlier this year, the council became a recognised partner of the organisation because we are committed to keeping our residents safe from falling victim to these lenders. The work done by the Illegal Money Lending Team to raise awareness and offer support can bring a difference in many people’s lives.”

Lorrain Nash, manager of Guisborough Bridge Association community project, added: “Some of the people we support have been fallen into debt and hope that by working with Stop Loan Sharks, they will have the agency to protect against being exploited by loan sharks. By inviting Stop Loan Sharks to have an information stall at our Soup and Roll morning,  people can be made aware of how to avoid being exploited.”

Rachael Crooks, community partnership and engagement manager at Beyond Housing, said: “We are committed to working with the Stop Loan Sharks Team. People and communities have various and complex needs, by working together in partnership to bring advice and support to the doorsteps of our communities we will have a wider impact and bring services to people that need them the most.”

Barry Whitton, community liaison officer from Cleveland Fire Brigade, said: “First and foremost, our purpose is to save lives and make people safe. This is our day job whether that’s responding to 999 calls or preventing emergencies happening in the first place. Our work expands beyond this though and our purpose extends to making our communities stronger places for our future generations.”

And a spokesperson for Morrisons added: “Morrisons’ commitment to championing local communities is evident through its various initiatives and partnerships. Local engagement at Morrisons is significantly driven by the efforts of each store’s Community Champion.”

There are an estimated 1.08 million people in debt to loan sharks in England, according to the Centre for Social Justice.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the IMLT. Since its launch, it has supported over 31,700 people and written off over £91.3 million worth of illegal debt, securing over 420 prosecutions for illegal money lending, leading to more than 600 years in jail.

Anyone who has been affected by illegal money lending should call the Stop Loan Sharks 24/7 Helpline on 0300 555 2222 or access support online at www.stoploansharks.co.uk. Live Chat is available on the website from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.