The annual Stop Loan Sharks awards, hosted by the England Illegal Money Lending Team, recognise those who have made a valuable contribution in highlighting the dangers of loan sharks in their communities. Only five agencies nationally received the Highly Commended award.
Riverside delivered a prolonged campaign warning people about loan sharks, and promoting alternative methods of borrowing to the community. They put out information in their tenants newsletter, supported a case study to speak to the media, blogged and tweeted about loan sharks and produced an animation on the subject using Lego models. The case study was so well received that they went national, raising awareness on BBC Radio 5 and in the Independent.
Riverside’s Community Engagement Manager Frank Burke, who produced the Lego animation, said: “We’re delighted to be recognised for the work we do to raise awareness of the dangers of illegal money lenders.
“Sadly, it is often those who can least afford it who pay the highest rates of interest. Unable to access credit from banks or building societies, some feel they have no choice but to turn to payday lenders, or worse, loan sharks.
“We are committed to helping our residents manage their debt with dignity by offering affordable alternatives to loan sharks.
Councillor Steve Munby, Liverpool City Council cabinet member for neighbourhoods, said: “At a time when more people are struggling to make ends meet it is more important than ever that they are made aware of the dangers of dealing with loan sharks who prey on them when they are their most vulnerable. So I am pleased that Riverside’s campaign which highlighted the dangers and offered alternatives has received this award.”
Tony Quigley Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team “All of the submissions we received were worthy of an award but Riverside received their commendation because of their ongoing dedication to combating loan sharks.
Loan sharks cause nothing but misery in our communities, using the most callous methods to force people into paying back far and above what they have borrowed and can afford. Riverside have shown a real commitment to highlighting this issue in the local community and with their support and that of other key agencies, we are sending a clear message that this crime will not be tolerated. If you have been the victim of a loan shark, please report them in confidence on 0300 555 2222.”
Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 332 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 212 years-worth of custodial sentences. They have written off over £63 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 26,000 people.