Campaign to warn of loan shark dangers
A NEW campaign is being launched to make people aware of the dangers of using loan sharks.
The council is working with the England Illegal Money Lending team in a two-week campaign aimed at encouraging people to turn away from illegal money lenders.
Money confiscated from convicted loan sharks has been given to the Swindon Foyer, which helps young people develop independent living skills, to fund the teaching of financial skills.
Deborah Schofield, supported housing manager at Jephson Homes Housing Association, which runs Swindon Foyer, said: “We are delighted to confirm that the association has been awarded £800 by the Illegal Money Lending team to provide financial advice to the young people living at the Swindon Foyer.
“The money will go towards training Foyer staff in money management and dealing with debts so they can better support the young people in their care.
“Swindon Foyer accommodates approximately 140 young people each year and, while not all of them will have debts, the majority would benefit from advice to help them manage their money in preparation for independent living, where they will have to pay a number of bills to different organisations, in order to avoid the dangers of high-risk quick-fix solutions like loan sharks.
“Some young people have never lived away from home before or may have numeracy problems. Young people are also often on a low income, perhaps living on benefits, undertaking an apprenticeship or working part-time.”
On top of this, representatives from the illegal money lending team will be holding drop-in sessions giving advice on how to deal with loan sharks.
Advice will also be given to police and Swindon Adult Services to better equip them to deal with victims of crime.
Throughout the country it is estimated more than 131,000 households are in debt to loan sharks.
Because there is often very little paperwork, victims are unaware of how much they are paying, with reports of one being charged interest at an annualised 130,000 per cent.
Coun Richard Hurley, cabinet member for public protection, housing and Streetsmart, said: “Loan sharks bring misery to so many households and we as a council are determined to do all we can to support those who have been a victim of this crime.
“I am really pleased these awareness events have been set up in Swindon because they will help frontline staff to point those who have been affected by illegal money lending towards the necessary support and advice.
Drop in for advice on Wednesday and Thursday at Tesco, Ocotal Way between 11am and 5pm.
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