An eye-catching art installation has been created by school children across St Helens to raise awareness of the dangers of loan sharks and signpost people to the support available from the Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT)
Digital Arts Box CIC worked with students from Mill Green Primary School,
Eaves Primary and St Augustines High School to marry digital design with installation art in creating the ‘Magic Money Trees’
The project saw students learning about the dangers of loan sharks at the same time as getting creative with graphic design apps to create unique designs from each participant.
The artwork project was commissioned by the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) using £5,000 of money which had been confiscated from loan sharks following successful prosecutions.
The project culminated in a celebration and public exhibition event on the 11th March with the lasting message aiming to serve as a reminder to local residents about the dangers of loan sharks.
A loan shark is someone who lends money as a business without the correct permission from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Loan sharks are unregulated money lenders that prey on vulnerable people and charge extremely high interest rates. They often resort to using harassment, intimidation, threats and violence to pressure people into paying back loans.
The IMLT is a specialist enforcement unit that investigates and prosecutes illegal money lenders and provides support for borrowers.
Tony Quigley, Head of the England IMLT said: “We work closely with our partners, statutory and voluntary, to ensure victims get the help they deserve, to highlight the issue of illegal money lending and to explore ways in which we can keep communities safer.
“This striking art installation has really made an impression on people in St Helens and sparked conversations about illegal money lending. We urge anyone affected by this crime to come forward and access support as soon as possible.”