A FULL-SIZED graffiti mural was unveiled in Warrington last week (Thursday, 29 June) as part of a project to warn residents about the dangers of loan sharks.

The colourfully designed mural, which features anti-loan shark warning messages, will serve as a notice to residents about loan sharks and the help and support available to victims from the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT).

The IMLT worked with Youth Workers from Warrington Borough Council’s Early Help Division and Zap Graffiti Organisation as part of the community project which helped to engage young people to design the artwork; making the warning of loan sharks clear and highly visible on the Clarion Housing Estate (formerly the Affinity Sutton Housing Estate).

The artwork mural will be a permanent fixture on the estate and will serve as a constant reminder of the dangers of borrowing from unauthorised money lenders.

The graffiti piece has been designed by local young people with professional support from Zap Graffiti Organisation.

The words ‘No Money? No Problem’ appear on the mural, along with the England Illegal Money Lending Team’s hotline number (0300 555 2222).

Local residents and councillors attended an event on Thursday (June 29) to celebrate the launch of the mural. The Mayor of Warrington also attended to show his support for the project.

Cllr Jean Carter, Executive Board Member for Children’s Services, said:

“The community action project is a fantastic outcome for young people from the Clarion Housing Estate and I am delighted to unveil the artwork. I hope that it raises awareness about the dangers and risks of illegal money lending and inspires other young people within the community to make a difference. Congratulations to all involved in supporting the young people to make this happen.”

The community artwork project was commissioned by the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) using £1,300 of proceeds of crime money; cash which has been confiscated from loan sharks, following successful prosecutions.

Back in 2013, a loan shark from the Great Sankey area in Warrington was jailed for 30 months for illegal money lending. John Radford exploited many vulnerable people by lending out hundreds of thousands of pounds at high interest rates.

An estimated 310,000 households nationally are borrowing from illegal money lenders, many of whom charge exorbitant rates of interest to trap people into a spiral of debt. Many loan sharks will resort to bullying tactics, such as intimidation, threats and even violence to enforce repayment.

Tony Quigley, Head of Service for the National Illegal Money Lending Team said:

“Illegal money lenders can have a horrific impact on our communities, and should never be used under any circumstances.

“We would always urge residents to visit their local credit union as a safe way to borrow money, instead of turning to unauthorised lenders. Loan sharks may appear friendly at first and act as though they’re offering a community service, but don’t be fooled by this behaviour as it soon changes once monies are owed.

“If you or someone you know has been the victim of a loan shark, the team are here to help on 0300 555 2222. Your call will be handled by a trained IMLT officer and all information will be treated in the strictest confidence.”

Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 378 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 325 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £71.9 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 26,500 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

E-mail reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk 

Private message us on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject