Wyre Forest families get loan shark advice

Wyre Forest families are being warned about the dangers of loan sharks this month.

The England Illegal Money Lending Team, known as Stop Loan Sharks, is holding a week of action in the area starting on Monday, July 8, to let people know how to spot the signs that someone is a loan shark and how to find help if they have borrowed from one.

The Bite Back Week is being organised in partnership with West Mercia Police, Wyre Forest District Council and Community Housing.

The team from Stop Loan Sharks, accompanied by mascot Sid the Shark, will be around the town speaking to people and giving out advice and information from Monday to Thursday next week.

On Monday, July 8, the team will be at the Starting Well Hub at Brookside Children’s Centre, Borrington Road, Kidderminster from 9.30am to 11am. From 1pm to 3pm they will be at Tesco in Severn Road, Stourport.

On Tuesday, July 9, they will be on a walkabout from 11am to 1pm in the Queen Street, Windsor Drive, Broad Street, Eddy Road, and Larkhill areas of Kidderminster. From 1pm to 3pm, they will be at Lidl, in Vale Road, Stourport.

On Wednesday, July 10, from 10.30am to noon, people can catch the team at St Chads Church and Café Chad in Burcher Green, Kidderminster.

Then on Thursday, July 11, they will be at Comberton Primary School from 8.15am, and from noon to 1.30pm on walkabout in Comberton Avenue, Queen Elizabeth Road, Hawford Avenue and Broom Crescent, Kidderminster.

Tony Quigley, head of the IMLT, said: “Raising awareness is a big part of the work we do in communities – we want to make sure that everyone knows exactly where to turn for help if they have been targeted by an illegal lender and we would urge anyone in the area to come and say help to the team and find out more about what we do.”

Beverley Hiden, money advice and sustainability manager at Community Housing,  said: “Community Housing is pleased to be once again working with the IMLT and Sid the Shark to raise awareness of illegal money lending activities in the Wyre Forest area. We will be joined by the local safe neighbourhoods teams, and Wyre Forest District Council for a series of events in Kidderminster and Stourport on Severn.”

Many illegal money lenders are well known within their communities and are often introduced to borrowers through friends or family members. They are unregulated and give loans with no paperwork, charging extortionate interest rates. They often resort to threats, intimidation and even violence if repayments are not made.

There are up to 1.08 million people in debt to loan sharks in England, according to figures from the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ).

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the IMLT. Since its launch, the team has supported over 31,700 people and written off over £91.3 million worth of illegal debt, securing over 420 prosecutions for illegal money lending, leading to over 600 years in jail.

Anyone who has been affected by illegal money lending should call the Stop Loan Sharks 24/7 Helpline on 0300 555 2222 or access support online at www.stoploansharks.co.uk. Live Chat is available on the website from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.