Cumbria County Council is having a 'Week of Action' from 24 - 28 September to combat loan sharks and encourage people in the Carlisle area to get saving.
Trading Standards, in partnership with the England Illegal Money Lending Team, will be hosting the 'Week of Action' which aims to raise awareness of illegal money lending and will also reward people who join Carlisle Credit Union.
Various activities and initiatives will take place next week, including training sessions for officers and councillors from Cumbria County Council and Carlisle City Council so that they can give the best advice to the public when tackling illegal money lenders.
Community advocate sessions will also be taking place as follows and this is an open invitation to all members of the community to come along, find out about loan shark activities and get details of how to join Carlisle Credit Union:
• Tuesday 25 September from 3 - 5 pm at Petteril Bank Community Centre
• Wednesday 26 September from 3.45 - 5.30 pm at Currock House
• Friday 28 September from 3 - 5.00 pm at Harraby Community Centre
The England Illegal Money Lending Team's mascot, 'Sid' the Shark will also be walking around Carlisle city centre promoting the week of action on Thursday 27 September.
There will also be lessons in Loan Shark awareness for Year 6 pupils at Inglewood Junior School.
Promotional items such as banners and beer mats will be displayed around the local area to help raise awareness.
As an incentive to start saving, the first 100 Cumbrians who join the Carlisle Credit Union during the week will have their £ 1 membership fee waived. The 'Week of Action' and the Credit Union initiative is being funded via cash confiscated from illegal money lenders through the courts, giving it back to the local communities affected by loan sharks.
Angela Jones, Cumbria County Council's Trading Standards Service Manager, said:
"We have a full programme of events planned for this 'Week of Action' and this will put illegal loan sharks in the spotlight and help prevent the hard-pressed in our communities falling victim. This sends a clear message that illegal money lending will not be tolerated under any circumstances."
Cllr Gary Strong, cabinet member for Trading Standards, said:
"This is a difficult financial climate and sometimes those with limited resources can be so desperate that they can be tempted to resort to borrowing from loan sharks. We hope to highlight the dangers of using loan sharks and I strongly encourage the people of Carlisle to take advantage of this great scheme and spread the word to their friends and families. This is particularly important in the period in the run-up to Christmas when there can be extra pressure to spend."
Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said:
"We are continuing to crack down on this crime and bring offenders to justice. Loan sharks may appear friendly at first but they are not a community service, they are motivated only by greed and will resort to the most callous methods to force borrowers into paying back above and beyond, what they have borrowed and can afford. We would urge anyone who is aware of illegal money lending activity to report the crime in confidence on 0300 555 2222."
For more information on the community advocate sessions and Credit Union sign-up opportunities contact 01228 221660.
To report a loan shark:
Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222
Text 'loan shark + your message' to 60003
Private message us on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject
Log-on to www.direct.gov.uk/stoploansharks
For furhter information contact Gareth Cosslett on 01228 226337.
For general enquiries to Cumbria County Council's communications team contact email@example.com or call 01228 226338/ 221008/ 226601.