Funding available to help combat ‘loan sharks’ in Reading

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Author's position
Article date
23 July 2014
Primary interest
Funding and Fundraising

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The national Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) is working to help raise awareness of the dangers of loan sharks in Reading and there are grants available up to £500 for work which furthers this cause.

The Team has already secured over 300 prosecutions for illegal money lending, helping nearly 24,00 victims and ensuring the write off of £55,000,000 of illegal debt. An estimated 310,000 household are borrowing from illegal money lenders nationwide, paying interest as high as 131,000% APR.

During November 2014, the Team will be working with Reading Trading Standards to deliver a Month of Action raising awareness of illegal lenders. Due to the success of the team, they have funds available to support local projects; these funds have been taken away from an illegal lender under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA). If you would like to take advantage of this opportunity and support the Illegal Money Lending Team, you can apply for a grant of up to £500.

Who can apply?
Local residents, charities, community and voluntary groups, schools and statutory agencies benefiting those that live in the areas covered by Reading Borough Council.

Why take part?

  • The funding may help your organisation reach different client groups, encouraging more people to engage with your service
  • It helps you sample new ideas with funding
  • There will be free publicity and networking opportunities for your organisation
  •  The application form is simple to complete and doesn’t take long
  • It’s something a bit different… and FUN!

How much can you apply for?
You can apply for up to a maximum of £500

What can you spend the money on?
Funds can be spent on any worthwhile community project that meets the following criteria:

  • Contributes to raising the awareness of the dangers of using ‘loan sharks’
  • Promotes legal, affordable credit options to prevent people from using loan sharks
  • Tries to prevent crime and disorder whilst promoting the stop loan sharks message

Here are some examples of how POCA money has been used in the past.
A Food Bank paid for Stop Loan Sharks branded bags and food for distribution
A Citizens’ Advice Bureau held a shark smoothathon – using a smoothie making bicycle to encourage engagement in a busy market place. Visitors made their own shark themed drinks and whilst they were on the stationary bike they were being chatted to about illegal lenders. The POCA money was used to hire the bicycle and to buy the ingredients needed.
Buying money boxes and developing a money mentoring project with young people to warn them about the dangers of Loan Sharks
Residents Group door knocking with information about Loan Sharks and personal attack alarms for residents
Storytelling competition about Loan Sharks
A youth group recorded a podcast of a loan shark play
Poster competition within a school, winning poster made into a banner and displayed at local market
Payment for venue and buffet lunch for Community Stop Loan Sharks Advocate Training (training provided free of charge by IMLT)

The Illegal Money Lending Team can also offer:

  • FREE training for community groups, agencies and organisations
  • FREE use of shark mascot costume (dependent on availability)
  • FREE publicity materials
  • FREE educational resource packs for anyone who teaches financial capability skills

You can download an application form here or for more information please see www.birmingham.gov.uk/stoploansharks