National award for Melton debt advice centre

A debt advice service in Melton Mowbray has won a national award for its work in helping protect communities from the threat of loan sharks.

MADMAC – Melton and District Money Advice Centre – has been awarded full partner accreditation from the England Illegal Money Lending Team, which recognises organisations that help in its fight to tackle loan sharks across the country.

IMLT mascot Sid the Shark with Amanda Heath, MADMAC manager and founder, and Hetty Simpson, assistant manager

Since its launch eight years ago MADMAC has helped over 1,500 people with a total of £10 million of debt, and demand for its services are growing.

Founder and manager Amanda Heath said: “We are delighted to be awarded this recognition and we are determined to do whatever we can to help people avoid falling into the clutches of loan sharks.

“If people need to borrow money we can help them do it in a safe and affordable way rather than turning to people who are just going to take advantage.

“We know loan sharks operate in this area and we want to make sure people aware of the signs they should look out for.”

Tony Quigley, head of the IMLT, said: “Congratulations to MADMAC on this award – we are delighted to have them on board.

“It is great to know there are fantastic organisations like this that are working so hard on a grassroots level to rid our communities of these illegal money lenders. We are so grateful to them for their work in helping to raise awareness.

“We would urge anyone who has any knowledge about illegal lending or is worried they are in debt to a loan shark to get in touch with us for help and advice.”

MADMAC, based in The Fox, a former pub in Leicester Street, offers debt and budgeting advice to anyone who lives in the Melton Mowbray area and the surrounding villages.

Amanda added: “We would say to anyone who is struggling don’t suffer in silence. There is help there and it’s free. Our aim is to help people move forward with their lives and make good choices.”

The Centre for Social Justice estimates that around 1.08 million people are borrowing from loan sharks in the UK. Since its launch in 2004, the IMLT has supported over 31,000 people and written off over £91 million worth of illegal debt, securing over 410 prosecutions for illegal money lending.

To get in touch with MADMAC, email help@madmacmoney.co.uk or call 07775 942046. Visit www.madmacmoney.co.uk to find out more.

Anyone who thinks they have been targeted by an illegal money lender can call the IMLT’s 24/7 confidential hotline on 0300 555 222 or visit the website www.stoploansharks.co.uk where there is a live chat facility from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.

To find out more about becoming an IMLT partner, email partner@stoploansharks.gov.uk