The Work Out Your Money team (WOYM) have been awarded £3,000 of proceeds of crime money to spend on a project which will help raise further awareness of loan sharks in the Havant area. WOYM plan to spend the money on producing a series of powerful animated videos to promote client awareness.

Funded by the Big Lottery, the Work Out Your Money team have been running money skills sessions across the Havant, Hayling Island, Waterlooville areas since 2014.  The sessions aim to help with useful life skills such as household budgeting, money saving and energy saving tips together with a host of ways to be financially aware. More recently, the team have been working with both primary and secondary school pupils, as part of WOYM’s financial capability school programme, which has successfully engaged and educated many hundreds of young people on all aspects of managing their personal finances. This encourages young people to be smart with their finances from an early age and aims to prevent them falling victim to a loan shark in the future.

As part of this programme, WOYM Money Skills Mentors, together with volunteers, have visited Havant College, Havant Academy and other community venues in Hampshire to deliver a ‘True Cost of Borrowing’ workshop to over 100 students from eight secondary schools. The interactive session incorporated key messages such as the difference between ‘needs and wants’ and examples of ‘good and bad borrowing’. WOYM were able to make use of aspects of the England Illegal Money Lending Team’s financial education pack, which has been designed for young people.

Pupils were also presented with real-life case studies from victims of loan sharks, such as ‘Mike’s Story’ which tells the account of a 17 year-old who unfortunately fell in to the grip of an illegal money lender at an early age. Mike borrowed just £250 to purchase his first car, and made an agreement to pay it back in instalments until the loan was repaid. It was only after Mike made a few payments that additional interest was mentioned. Mike wasn’t expecting the extra charges and found it difficult to repay so was offered a further loan to pay off the first. This vicious cycle continued over the next two decades, which Mike described as ‘sheer hell’. Mike ended up paying back a staggering £90,000 to the loan shark, all for an initial loan of £250.

In November 2016, two loan sharks from Havant were jailed for running an illegal money lending business, worth a staggering £750,000.

Jon Stuart, CEO, Citizens Advice Havant commented:

“We are delighted to receive this award which recognises the valuable work our WOYM team are undertaking. Creating the videos is a new dimension which will enable us to undertake more proactive work within the community and enhance our existing programme.”

The Mayor of Havant commented:

“Illegal money lending where people are friendly and seem to be helping you out but don’t give you any paperwork or terms of repayment is a real danger. Borrowers can get sucked in to spending hundreds of pounds to repay a very small loan. People need to ask for help and the work of Havant Citizens Advice has done in helping people understand how to manage money by going in to schools and community groups has been fantastic – they richly deserve this award. Thank you to the IMLT for this recognition.”

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

“Well done to all our winners and ‘highly commended’ runners up in the National Champions Awards 2016. You have all contributed to making a difference and tackling this crime in your community.”

“Loan sharks are a scourge on society and cause harm and misery to their victims. If you or someone you know has been a victim of a loan shark, we urge you to get in touch with IMLT on 0300 555 2222. You call will be handled by a trained officer and all information will be treated in the strictest confidence.”

Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 370 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 318 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £71.9 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 26,500 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