The dangers of illegal money lending were highlighted at an awareness day organised by Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Credit Union (BFWCU), Great Places Housing Group, Blackpool Council and Blackpool Coastal Housing. Mike Barry, chief executive of BFWCU, explains the importance of these events:
“It was encouraging to see so many people turn out to our loan shark awareness day and uniting against illegal money lending.
“While the day itself was light-hearted – with prizes to be won and members of the community getting involved with building our sand shark sculpture – the message was a serious one. Illegal money lenders can have a horrific impact on our communities, trapping people in a spiral of debt and resorting to extreme bullying tactics to enforce payment. Loan sharks aren’t always the stereotypical thugs people imagine either. Often, they can be people we initially think of as friends.
“It’s important to realise that alternative options are available if you are in financial difficulty. Many of those who attended the awareness event were unaware that they could obtain a loan in a legal, affordable and responsible way, or that they could set up a safe savings account through their credit union.
“And when someone borrows from us, they’ll deal with real people so we can talk to them about what to do if they’re still having problems.
“We hope this and future events will help empower people against loan sharks and give them the confidence to get in touch so we can tell them what support is available.”