Biting back against Loan Sharks this Christmas

Bristol Credit Union supports national campaign led by the Illegal Money Lending Team

Bristol Credit Union is on a mission to stop people borrowing from illegal lenders this Christmas. The Credit Union is supporting ‘Stop Loan Sharks Week’, the national campaign led by the Illegal Money Lending team (IMLT), to raise awareness of the dangers of using loan sharks this Christmas.

The average family is expected to spend more than £800 celebrating Christmas, and many people may turn to loan sharks, or other high-cost lenders, to cover the cost.

To help fight back BCU have teamed up with IMLT, on a new scheme that uses money confiscated from convicted loan sharks as an incentive to encourage people in Bristol to join their credit union.

James Berry, Chief Executive at Bristol Credit Union, said: “We provide savings and loans services to more than 10,500 members across Bristol and the west of England, and sadly we’ve heard tales of people who have fallen into the hands of loan sharks.

We want to make loan sharks history in our city, so we’re delighted to offer this incentive to show people there is a better, safer and more affordable way to manage their money 

"This year we’ve helped nearly 1,000 families in the run up to Christmas with affordable loans. We’ve saved people over £1 million in interest so far compared to high cost alternative borrowing - money going back into our local economy over the next 12 months".

The not for profit cooperative were recently featured in the BBC One documentary series ‘A Matter of Life and Debt’, which highlights the many ways credit unions are making a difference in their local community, by providing inclusive financial options for all.

The ‘Stop Loan Sharks’ promotion is open to the first 100 people to join Bristol Credit Union between now and the end of December, and who make at least three monthly payments into their account. Once they’ve done that they will qualify for a savings boost of £25. 

To report a loan shark call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222 or visit


Image: Sid the Shark mascot, from the Illegal Money Lending Team, pictured with trustees, volunteers and service users from the Upper Horfield Community Trust, who are helping to promote the scheme in the local community

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Posted on
06 December 2018