Tower Hamlets parents learn about dangers of loan sharks

PARENTS at a local primary school in Tower Hamlets have been learning about the dangers of borrowing from loan sharks, as part of a creative expression course.

The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) have been working with Touchstone Creative Arts to deliver a course to parents at Stewart Headlam Primary School about safe borrowing and avoiding loan sharks.

Touchstone Creative Arts are a community organisation that delivers workshops to support people back into work and help build their confidence. The organisation has recently started tailoring their workshops to teach money management skills to residents in East London.

Touchstone Creative Arts were awarded £3,860 in proceeds of crime money to deliver a project to help tackle the issue of loan sharks in their borough.

This lump sum of money has come from loan sharks who have had all their available assets seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act (2002).

Parents at Stewart Headlam Primary School took part in a nine week creative expression course; members used the information they had learnt during this period to produce poetry pieces and performances around illegal money lending and debt.

Parents were made aware of where to get professional help and support if faced with money troubles and debt. As well as raising awareness of loan sharks, participants were informed about the services that Credit Unions and Citizens Advice can offer.

Attendees completed the course by presenting their poetry and performance pieces to other parents and staff members at Stewart Headlam Primary School.

Priscilla Joseph, Project Lead at Touchstone Creative Arts, said:

“Touchstone Creative Arts are delighted to have been awarded funding in the Stop Loan Sharks awards. We used this money to create an interesting project using creative writing to raise awareness of illegal money lending to parents at Stewart Headlam Primary School. We were able to signpost parents to the legal lenders available so they never have to turn to loan sharks.”

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. Many loan sharks will resort to bullying tactics, such as intimidation, threats and even violence to enforce repayment.

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

“The creative pieces that parents at Stewart Headlam Primary School designed were excellent. It is important that communities are aware of how to access safe and ethical loans, so that people don’t fall victim to this despicable crime. If you or someone you know has been the victim of a loan shark, we urge you to contact us on 0300 555 2222. Your call will be handled by a trained officer and all information will be handled in the strictest confidence. Alternatively, please visit our website www.stoploansharks.uk for more information.”

Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 380 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 328 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £72.5 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 27,000 people.

To report a loan shark:

Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222

Text a report to 078600 22116

Visit the website www.stoploansharks.co.uk

E-mail reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk 

Private message us on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject