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The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) are working with Thirteen, the Tees Credit Union and Hartlepool’s Financial Inclusion Partnership to host the ‘Get Your Head Above Water’ family event at Hartlepool Central Library on York Road.
The awareness-raising event will run from 10am to 3pm and will consist of a variety of free activities suitable for all the family to get involved in.
There will be free arts and crafts, face painting, balloon modelling, water activities and fun sport activities for guests to enjoy.
Hartlepool Financial Inclusion Partnership will be joined by a range of partner agencies on the day, such as Anglian Water, Cleveland Fire Brigade, the England Illegal Money Lending Team, Feel Good in Hartlepool, Get Hartlepool Active, Hartlepool Borough Council, Tees Credit Union and many more.
Adults will have the opportunity to speak to advisors from partner organisations about any issues or concerns they may have regarding suspected illegal money lending activity, crime, benefits, debt and housing.
Val Evens, Chair of the Hartlepool Financial Inclusion Partnership, said: “We are pleased to be working with the Illegal Money Lending Team and local agencies to raise awareness of the dangers of loan sharks to Hartlepool residents.
“Most people do not have access to bank accounts or low cost loans, so it is important that we make residents aware of the safe ways to borrow money and signpost them to their local credit union. This prevents more people from using the illegitimate services of a loan shark to borrow money and falling victim.
“Hartlepool’s Financial Inclusion Partnership works alongside partner organisations to bring opportunities to Hartlepool residents regardless of their start in life or financial situation. If you have been the victim of a loan shark, please contact the England Illegal Money Lending Team on 0300 555 2222 or visit www.stoploansharks.uk.”
Tees Credit Union will be running a limited promotion at Thursday’s event to encourage guests to sign-up and save. The first fifty people to sign up to the credit union and save at least £1 per week for twelve weeks will receive a £25 savings boost in to their credit union account.
This savings incentive is being funded using proceeds of crime money; cash confiscated from convicted loan sharks, following successful prosecutions.
Tracey Rix Mason, Chief Officer at Tees Credit Union, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for local people to get a free cash bonus of £25. Becoming a member of Tees Credit Union means you can immediately apply for an affordable loan and will have access to other financial services. We encourage the local people of Hartlepool to take up this limited promotion which awards savers with a cash sum of £25 once they have saved for the required period. Your savings are safe with Tees Credit Union as we are covered by the FSCS scheme. For more information, visit our website at www.teescreditunion.co.uk.”
A loan shark is someone who lends money without the correct authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). 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.
Fiona Heighton, Financial Inclusion Leader at Thirteen, said: “Loan sharks prey on the most vulnerable and exploit borrowers for their own financial gain. The main aim of this event is to let people know about the options available to them, such as credit unions, to help people manage their money more effectively. There’ll be a range of fun activities for all the family to get involved in on the day.”
Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 378 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 325 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: