Students get animated to raise awareness of the dangers of loan sharks

Sandymoor students have created a series of stop motion animations using LEGO bricks and figures to raise awareness of the dangers of borrowing from loan sharks.

Students were involved in a week-long project focusing on the dangers of illegal money lending and took part in creative animation workshops.

It is hoped that the animations will now be used to educate other children in schools across the UK about the perils of using illegal lenders.

Police Constable Ian Hampson, from Runcorn Local Policing Unit, said: “This was a fantastic initiative which not only enabled pupils to develop the skills they need to produce animations but also provides them with vital knowledge about the dangers of illegal money lenders.

“We know that loan sharks have no thought for their victims. They prey on some of the most vulnerable members of our community, which is why we are keen to warn people, no matter what age they are, about the perils these criminals pose.

“I hope that all the pupils who produced the videos enjoyed taking part, but most of all I hope that they will be able to use the knowledge they gained to ensure that they always steer clear of loan sharks.”

The videos were produced in partnership with Mako, a Widnes based animation company, and the scheme has been funded by a grant from B&M Halton Lea store.

The work forms part of an ongoing initiative by PC Ian Hampson and PCSO Georgia Griffiths aimed at tackling loan sharks and illegal money lenders operating in the Runcorn area.

Tony Quigley, head of the Illegal Money Lending Team, the organisation that prosecutes loan sharks across England, said: “I congratulate the students on their creativity and hard work. These animations convey important messages about the dangers of loan sharks and help educate and raise awareness around this crime.  

“Loan sharks prey on vulnerable people and we have seen cases where interest rates as high as 4.5 million per cent have been offered. We will continue to work closely with our partners to combat loan sharks and support victims across all communities.”

Sally Jones, Acting Principle of Sandymoor High School, said: “We are very proud to have been selected to take part in this initiative alongside the police and the Illegal Money Lending Team.  It is so important that our children are warned about the dangers of this activity and the implications it can lead to within our society. 

“Our students have relished in the learning experience the team have provided and hopefully it will lead to many others being educated within their family circles as a result.”

Anyone who believes that they have been the victim of illegal money lending is urged to contact the confidential stop loan sharks helpline on 0300 555 2222 or complete an online report form.