Telford pupils lead the fight against loan sharks

PUPILS at a Telford primary school are biting back against loan sharks as part of a new awareness project.

The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) has teamed up with Holmer Lake Primary School and Just Credit Union to teach children as young as five about money management to keep them out of the clutches of loan sharks.

Teachers are using tailored lesson plans – funded from criminals’ confiscated cash – to teach pupils about budgeting and avoiding debt to prevent them getting into financial difficulties in the future.

Rachel Gillett, Deputy Headteacher at Holmer Lake Primary School, said:

“The aim of our whole school finance fortnight is to develop the pupils’ confidence, skills and knowledge, so that they are equipped to manage their money, now and in the future.”

“With the shift towards an increasing cashless society and with advertising targeted to influence spending, especially at this time of year, we want our pupils to think carefully about how they use money; understand the benefits of saving and know the risks involved in borrowing money.”

Officers from the IMLT hosted an assembly on the issue of illegal money lending and introduced pupils to mascot Sid the Shark.

Groups were also shown a cartoon from the IMLT lesson plans about a penguin who borrows from a loan shark to fix a broken fishing rod.

The Finance Fortnight encourages youngsters to think about needs and wants and develop an understanding of credit, and sensitively look at the issues of loan sharks.

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

“We believe improving financial education and raising awareness of where to find the right information will help give children the resources to manage their money and keep safe in the future. It is hoped pupils will take these important messages about loan sharks home to their families.

“Help and support is available to anyone affected by loan sharks, call our 24 hour confidential hotline on 0300 555 2222 or report online at www.stoploansharks.co.uk.”

Pupils are also taking part in a prize competition to design a poster warning people of the dangers of illegal money lending.

Shropshire’s savings and loan co-operative, Just Credit Union, are working with the school to promote safe borrowing and savings.

Steve Barras, Just Credit Union Development and Marketing Officer, said:

“We are delighted to be working with the Illegal Money Lending Team and Holmer Lake Primary. Holmer Lake works hard to prepare their children for their life beyond the school and financial skills are an important element of that. The school already offers a Just Credit Union junior savings scheme run by senior pupils. We are also introducing a new scheme again supported by IMLT to help adults who are borrowing for Christmas to build up some savings.”

The first 50 new members taking out a loan with Just Credit Union this Christmas will be eligible for an additional £25 bonus into their savings account if they make their loan repayments and save £5 a week for eight weeks.

Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 382 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 330 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off over £74 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 28,000 people.

To report a loan shark:

Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222

Text a report to 078600 22116

Visit the website

E-mail reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk 

Private message us on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject