FIRST OUTING FOR STOPLOANSHARKS NORTHERN IRELAND
The Consumer Council's Illegal Money Lending and Financial Services Team recently gave their "Sid the Shark" mascot his first public appearance at The Consumer Council's Consumer Parliament in Belfast on Friday, 8th March.
The Consumer Parliament was the team's first public engagement and the newly established team were greatly encouraged by the positive reaction they received from attendees.
"Sid the Shark" proved to be an effective conversation-starter to the very serious issue of illegal money lending here.
The StopLoanSharks campaign, which has been operating successfully for over 15 years in other regions of the UK, has only recently been established in Northern Ireland. The campaign is funded by HM Treasury and is delivered by The Consumer Council's Illegal Money Lending and Financial Services Team.
In Northern Ireland, the campaign will focus on three main functions:
- researching and scoping the problem of illegal money lending in the region
- providing education and outreach to children, young people, and adults in household budgeting and credit choices to offer early intervention against individuals turning to illegal lending sources
- working with the finance industry to formulate ethical and accessible alternative loan products.
The team spoke with members of the general public and representatives of other debt and finance advisory organisations who were also exhibiting at the event.
Scott Kennerley, Director of Financial Services at The Consumer Council said, "We were delighted at the positive response we received at the event. Everyone who engaged with the team voiced sincere concerns about the problems relating to illegal money lending within their local communities, and we were encouraged to hear so many express whole-hearted support for the campaign's objectives".
The team is currently working on finalising a public-facing website and a suite of education and outreach resources and will soon be actively looking for opportunities to work alongside partner organisations within local communities right across Northern Ireland.