Prestigious award win for Radio Northumberland’s loan shark campaign

Cath Williams, IMLT LIAISE Manager, presents highly commended award to Radio Northumberland presenters.

Radio Northumberland’s flagship show ‘New Wave with Newman’ has won national recognition for its pioneering work in raising awareness of the dangers of loan sharks.

The Stop Loan Sharks awards, which are hosted by the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT), recognise organisations which are supporting the fight against illegal money lending and making a difference in communities by highlighting the issue.

The hotly contested awards earned multiple nominations for loan shark projects across the country.

The IMLT commissioned punk poetry duo Cherry & Peesh to write a song about the risks of borrowing from loan sharks and where to get help.

The single proved an unlikely hit with North East radio fans as it reached the station’s Top 10 Festive Music Chart list ahead of songs by legendary bands like the Sex Pistols and the Clash.

The specially commissioned song, called Loan Shark, was penned by Cherry and Peesh, who are singer-songwriter Peter Leithhead (Peesh) from Ashington, Northumberland and poet Beverley Warner (Cherry B) from Essex.

Cherry & Peesh met on a Tyne Idols punk tour of Newcastle, hosted by punk music presenter Keith Newman, who presents Radio Northumberland’s flagship show.

The pair have played all across the UK and featured in many festivals including the famous “Rebellion Punk Festival” in Blackpool.

The unique project was funded by loan sharks’ ill-gotten cash seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).

Radio Northumberland produced a one-hour documentary about the music of Cherry & Peesh highlighting the loan shark song.

The station continues to spearhead the campaign to warn people about the perils of using illegal money lenders. 

Keith Newman, Radio Northumberland Presenter said: “We’re delighted to have received this award for our campaign which highlights the dangers of borrowing money from illegal money lenders.

“Loan sharks often and deliberately prey on the most vulnerable members of society. We want to reassure our listeners they are not alone and that a wide range of help and support is available to anyone affected by a loan shark.”

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.

Tony Quigley, head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, congratulated the community radio station on its award.

He said: “Loan sharks prey on vulnerable people and we have seen cases where interest rates as high as 4.5 million per cent APR have been offered, which can cripple the borrower as they cannot afford to repay the rapidly increasing debt.

“Radio Northumberland has worked hard to make people aware of the risks of borrowing money from loan sharks and have conveyed the message in a unique and inspiring way through punk poetry.” 

Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 394 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 480 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £74.9 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 29,000 people.

To report a loan shark call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222, text a report to 078600 22116 or complete a secure form online.

Radio Northumberland’s “New Wave with Newman” show airs every Monday evening at 8pm.

The station can be heard via its website radionorthumberland.com, TuneIn Radio app or through Alexa.