A SHARK-THEMED comic book that raises awareness of the dangers of borrowing from illegal money lenders has been designed by young people attending a mental health organisation in York.

York Mind are an organisation that offer a variety of services for young people struggling with mental health conditions. This includes 1-1 mentoring support and supportive groups where teenagers can meet other young people who are struggling with their mental health.

A group of young clients from the organisation have spent the last four months designing a comic book that features a series of comic art strips, demonstrating why people borrow money from loan sharks and the dangerous consequences that follow.

The ‘In the Jaws of a Loan Shark’ comic book has been commissioned by the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) using proceeds of crime money. A total of over £4,000 was invested into the project; money which has been confiscated from convicted loan sharks following successful prosecutions.

The young creators worked with Andy Hurst, a portrait and comic illustrator from York, as part of the project.

The comic book consists of four chapters: ‘A Fishy Situation’, ‘Discovering the Truth’, ‘The Final Chapter’ and an Epilogue to conclude the story.

A young client who attended the weekly art sessions and helped design the comic book, said:

“This project has been useful to keep me grounded. It’s helped me meet new people – some who are in a similar situation to me. The environment was relaxed and I now feel more comfortable with myself.”

Printed copies of the comic book have been distributed to various organisations throughout York, including Citizens Advice, York Advocacy, Castlegate for Young People, schools, colleges and universities.

Rab Ferguson, Young Peoples Coordinator at York Mind, said:

“The comic-book making group has been a wonderful experience for the young people. The group were incredibly supportive of each other’s mental wellbeing, and by the end were comfortably discussing their mental health together. They really took on board the message about the dangers of loan sharks, and were excited to create a comic that would be able to spread awareness of the issue. The young people enjoyed working with the comic book artist and the work they designed was very impressive – showcasing their talent both in drawing and writing.”

York Mind applied for the proceeds of crime funding to raise awareness of the dangers of loan sharks to vulnerable young people.

A loan shark is someone who lends money without authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Loan sharks can have a serious detrimental impact on the lives of victims. It was reported earlier this year that 9% of loan shark victims said they have contemplated suicide because of their involvement with a loan shark.

The IMLT have supported loan shark victims who have suffered from anxiety, depression, suicide and self-harm and other mental health conditions.

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

“The ‘In The Jaws of a Loan Shark’ comic book was a fantastic idea for a project and we are pleased to hear that the young people found the art-work sessions beneficial and enjoyable.

“Loan sharks prey on the most vulnerable of our society; so it is important that we build children’s knowledge and understanding of the dangers of borrowing from illegal money lenders at an early age. This will prevent them from falling victim to a loan shark in later life.

“If you or someone you know has been the victim of a loan shark, we urge you to get in touch on 0300 555 2222. Your call will be handled by a trained officer and all information will be treated in the strictest confidence. You can also report a loan shark online www.stoploansharks.uk.”

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.

For more information about York Mind, visit www.yorkmind.org.uk.

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

In The Jaws of A Loan Shark Comic Book

Front page


Chapter One – A Fishy Situation

Chapter Two – Discovering The Truth

Chapter Three – The Fin’al Chapter

The Epilogue to conclude the story

Contact infomation for the IMLT