L-R: Cath Williams (LIAISE Manager for the IMLT), Eileen Saunders (Founder of Migrant Workers Sefton Community) and Graham Parry (Area Coordinator for Southport & Formby) holding up the Stop Loan Sharks Highly Commended Award

Migrant Workers Sefton Community received a highly commended award on Tuesday (21st March) for their 2016 project which warned migrant workers living in Sefton of the dangers of borrowing from loan sharks.

The charity worked with The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT), Multimedia Company Handstead Films and Sefton Neighbourhood Team to produce a short film to demonstrate the perils of getting involved with an illegal money lender and to promote the help and support available to loan shark victims through the IMLT.

The title for the film ‘Stop Loan Leeches’ came about after the charity found that the term ‘loan shark’ did not translate well in to Eastern European languages.

In order to get the message across to migrant workers, the short film was translated in to six different languages: English, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian and Russian.

Migrant Workers Sefton Community help mitigate the financial hardship amongst migrant workers and their dependents living in Sefton and the surrounding area.

In 2016, The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) delivered training to volunteers from the charity on how to support migrant workers borrowing cash from loan sharks. Volunteers were taught on how to spot a loan shark and how to signpost victims to the appropriate help and support available.

As a result of actively working with the IMLT to raise awareness of loan sharks, Migrant Workers Sefton Community effectively reached over 900 direct clients and over 2000 in-direct client family members.

The project was funded by Sefton Council with support from the IMLT.

Cllr. Trish Hardy, Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing in Sefton, said:

“In Sefton we have always extended a warm welcome to migrants who choose to call our borough home and enrich it through their contribution to community life.

“Unfortunately, they often face real hardship, in particular managing their finances, meaning it can be all too tempting to seek out illegal money lenders, which inevitably makes their situation worse.

“It is heartening to see a service from Sefton Council take the fight to illegal lenders by educating migrants to make different and better choices – this award is richly deserved.

“It should also be noted that it is not only migrants in Sefton who are confronted by the dilemma posed by illegal lenders – it can happen to anyone. If you are worried about your finances or are considering illegal lenders, help is available from Sefton Council and our partners.”

Eileen Saunders, Co-founder of Migrant Workers Sefton Community said:

“We are delighted to have been recognised for our work in trying to stamp out illegal money lending. Loan sharks prey on the most disadvantaged members of our local communities, including European migrants. We hope our ‘Stop Loan Leeches’ video sends out a direct message that loan sharks will not be tolerated in Sefton and that there is help and support available to victims so they don’t have to suffer in silence.”

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

“Well done to all our winners and ‘highly commended’ runners up in the National Champions Awards 2016. You have all contributed to making a difference and tackling this crime in your community.

“Loan sharks are a scourge on society and cause harm and misery to their victims. If you or someone you know has been a victim of a loan shark, we urge you to get in touch with IMLT on 0300 555 2222. You call will be handled by a trained officer and all information will be treated in the strictest confidence.”

Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 370 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 318 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