Pictured: Telford cabinet member Arnold England and ward member Jackie Loveridge joined Holmer lake pupils for the stop loan sharks banner reveal.
Pupils at a Telford school have created a banner to warn residents about the dangers of borrowing money from unscrupulous lenders.
The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT), who regularly team up with local police and trading standards to prosecute loan sharks, launched a competition during an assembly at Holmer Lake Primary School, in Brookside, Telford. The pupils were tasked with designing a banner to help raise awareness of the perils posed by loan sharks.
The winning banner is now on display at the front of the school and inside Southwater Square.
Stop Loan Sharks Banner outside Holmer Lake Primary School
During lessons, pupils were educated on the dangers of getting involved with illegal lenders. They were also taught about the importance of saving and received guidance on how to manage their money effectively.
Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “It is important to educate young people about budgeting and avoiding debt to prevent them getting into financial troubles in the future.
“The banner competition is a brilliant way to get pupils engaged in the serious subject of loan sharks. We hope they will carry the message home and encourage parents, who may be in difficulties, to seek help and support.”
Pupils at Holmer Lake are also part of a junior savings scheme delivered by Just Credit Union, a not-for-profit, member owned community bank, operating throughout Shropshire.
Holmer Lake works closely with Just Credit Union to provide its pupils with a school-based savings club that gives them the chance to deposit and withdraw small amounts of money on a regular basis.
Rachel Gillett, Holmer Lake Deputy Headteacher said: “Working with the Illegal Money Lending Team and Just Credit Union during our Finance Fortnight really enhanced the children’s understanding of the benefits of saving and the risks involved in borrowing money.
“Our launch assembly, using the Loan Shark video and a visit from Sid the Shark, was a great way to introduce the overall theme and the banner competition gave the learning a real purpose.
“There is significant evidence that children now have a greater understanding of debt, savings and interest, which can only support them with Financial Literacy in the future.”
An estimated 310,000 households nationally are borrowing from illegal money lenders.
Loan sharks prey on the poorest and most vulnerable and make people’s lives a misery using violence and intimidation to extract money at exorbitant rates of interest.
Councillor Lee Carter, Telford & Wrekin Council’s cabinet member for Economic Development, said: “It is great to see the pupils of Holmer Lake having a creative input to a very serious issue. It is important to teach young people about managing money, responsible lending and understanding the dangers of not seeking advice or turning to illegal lenders. This is a hugely important initiative by the Illegal Money Lending Team and they should be applauded for the work they are doing. “
Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 385 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to over 330 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £74 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 28,000 people.