Students at All Saints Catholic College in Dukinfield are biting back against loan sharks as part of a new awareness project in Tameside.
The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) is working in partnership with Tameside Council, Prime Active Communities and Freelance Artist Jacqui Symons to deliver key messages around the dangers of using loan sharks.
Prime Active Communities CIC delivered a series of informative workshops to all the college students, teaching them about the dangers of using loan sharks and ways to borrow and save money responsibly. Pupils watched a short film ‘A Hard Day’s Work’ which presented the dangers of loan sharks and the links to drugs and organised crime. Students created their own storylines based on what they had learnt from the film and the scene clips were recorded and used as evidence towards their Level 2 Explore Art Award.
The project also involved students working with local artist Jacqui Symons who delivered an art workshop using block printing techniques to produce key messages and images which were used to create an eye-catching coffee table. Students involved gained an Arts Award Discover Level 1.
The project supports Tameside Council’s Our Streets campaign, which is bringing the local authority and public together to create a cleaner, greener, safer borough.
The table was unveiled at a presentation event on Monday (9th July) and is now on permanent display in the college’s reception area. The Civic Mayor of Tameside, Councillor Denise Ward, joined representatives from the IMLT to present awards to the students who have passed the project.
Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “Loan sharks devastate the most vulnerable people in our communities, often causing them to get into a spiral of debt and using the most callous methods to enforce their illegal debts.
“It is important to give students an understanding of the dangers of loan sharks from an early age, as not only will they share what they have learnt with their families but also so they know to avoid these criminals in adult life. The workshops discussed what a loan shark is, how they operate and how to get help. The short film showed the distressing impact loan sharks can have on young people and families.
“We urge anyone who has been the victim of a loan shark to report them in confidence on 0300 555 2222, as we can help bring them to justice.”
Cllr Allison Gwynne, Tameside Council’s Executive Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “I would like to thank All Saints College and everyone involved in making this project successful and to the IMLT for funding it.
“This was an amazing opportunity to work with All Saints Catholic College students and teachers and also demonstrates a good example of partnership working with key organisations. Using art and film is a good way of getting key messages across to young people and encouraging them to start the conversation with friends and family about the perils of using loan sharks.
“The Arts Awards gave students an opportunity to gain an additional recognised Level 1/Level 2 qualifications which provides more impact in terms of awareness raising and educational attainment throughout their future.”
The project was funded by the IMLT using money which has been seized from loan sharks under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 382 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 329 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £73.7 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 28,000 people.
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