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Sid the Shark helps Cestria Community Housing tackle illegal money lenders

A North East housing provider is saying ‘no to loan sharks’ with a new awareness campaign intended to reduce illegal money lending in Chester-le-Street, County Durham.

The Money Works, which is delivered by Cestria Community Housing (CCH), has teamed up with England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) to launch a campaign that will help raise awareness of loan sharks and signpost victims to the appropriate help and support available.

The IMLT is a law enforcement agency that investigates and prosecutes loan sharks. The team has a dedicated team of LIAISE officers who provide help and support to local residents that may be affected by illegal money lenders.

The initiative was launched at the Cestria Hub on Front Street with the assistance of ‘Sid the Shark’. Throughout the day, a team of officers visited local neighbourhoods in Chester-le-Street to distribute information leaflets and speak to residents about the dangers of borrowing from illegal money lenders.

The Money Works initiative began in December 2016 to raise awareness of a range of financial issues including debt, benefits, utilities, employability, digital inclusion and budgeting; all to help residents solve their money worries.

Suzanne Jobson, CCH’s financial inclusion manager, said: “We are committed to supporting our tenants by raising awareness of the help and support that is available as an alternative to borrowing money from illegal lenders.  Loan sharks trap borrowers into a spiral of debt, often resorting to extreme methods of intimidation, threats and violence to enforce repayment.

“Loan sharks are not welcome in Chester-le-Street, we are working in partnership with IMLT and the Police to target these criminals and we want residents to know there is an alternative to borrowing from a loan shark.

“Plans are already underway to organise a Week of Action in the summer which will give residents the opportunity to speak to members of the IMLT and the Police but also encourage them to budget and promote the benefits of saving with the Credit Union.”

Tony Quigley, head of service for the England IMLT, added: “We are pleased to be working with The Money Works and Durham Constabulary to combat loan sharks in Chester-le-Street.

“Illegal money lending is a despicable crime which causes nothing but harm to our communities. These lenders may appear to be offering a community service but borrowers are often forced to pay back far and above what they have borrowed and can afford.”


Photo: Money Workers Claire McDonald and Tracey Pearson (yellow top) with Sid the Shark aim to raise awareness of loan sharks and to reduce illegal money lending in Chester-le-Street

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