YourMK have received a highly commended award as part of the Stop Loan Sharks National Champions Awards.

The annual awards scheme, which is presented by the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT), allows partner agencies in England to bid for the National Champion Award of £3,000 of proceeds of crime money to spend on a project of their choice which will help to combat illegal money lending in their community.

YourMK received the highly commended award as recognition for the week of action that they delivered back in August 2016. The successful week of action involved a number of training sessions being delivered to frontline staff on the signs to look out for amongst potential loan shark victims. The training sessions also educated staff on ways to support a client who may be struggling after getting involved with a loan shark.

During the week, local agencies signed a charter pledging for a zero tolerance approach to loan sharks. Swan Credit Union also got involved in YourMK’s project by offering a limited incentive to residents, which resulted in a number of new members opening a savings account and making regular instalments in to their account. By encouraging people to get in to the habit of saving regularly, this prevents more people from falling victim of a loan shark in the future.

During a jam-packed week of awareness raising activities, YourMK effectively helped engage local community groups to promote the perils of loan sharks and signpost residents in the community to the legal alternatives available to borrowing money.

Your MK worked with a number of local schools, family centres and parish offices to distribute promotional materials to signpost potential loan shark victims to the help and support available through the IMLT.

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.”

Charlie Davies, Community Partnership Officer at YourMK, said:

“We were very pleased to work the England Illegal Money Lending Team and our local communities to highlight the dangers of loan sharks. As a result of local groups we funded, the roadshows we ran and the events we held, many more people across Milton Keynes are now aware of the huge risks of getting involved with loan sharks.”

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