Non-profit community bank becomes first in nation to win anti-usury award

Sid the Shark presents the award to Mark Perez, who chairs Just Credit Union at Wrockwardine Wood Junior School in Telford

Just Credit Union, which has members in Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin, has been awarded Partner Plus status in recognition of its continued commitment to tackling loan sharks in the county.

It has also been recognized for offering safe, responsible and sustainable financial products to its members.

The Partner Recognition Program celebrates the exceptional work of organizations that help fight illegal money lending and make their communities safer.

Just Credit Union, which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, has been upgraded to Partner Plus – the highest level of partnership offered by the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT).

Upgrading to Partner Plus will allow the credit union to continue its fight against loan sharks through awareness campaigns and financial education programs in schools.

The glass trophy was presented to Credit Union staff by the national mascot of England’s Illegal Money Lending Team – Sid the Shark, who visited Wrockwardine Wood Junior School on Monday June 13 for the launch of his new junior savings club.

The credit union held sessions at schools in Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin to educate children about the dangers of loan sharks, how to borrow money safely and how to protect themselves and their families from unscrupulous moneylenders .

Karen Farrow, Managing Director of Just Credit Union, said, “We are very proud to be the first organization in the country to win this award. The work we have done over the years has helped protect many vulnerable families from exploitation by predatory loan sharks.

“Just Credit Union has been championing ethical finance in Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin for 20 years. Our mission is to create a better financial future for our communities.

“We believe in fair access to affordable credit and everyone’s ability to control their finances. So we will continue to do what we do best, put members first and provide ethical and reliable financial services at an affordable price. »

The main branch of the Credit Union in Shrewsbury. It also normally operates community branches in other locations around the county including Dawley, Craven Arms, Ludlow, Market Drayton, Oswestry, Telford Town Center and Wellington.

Tony Quigley, Head of England’s Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “Our partner recognition program highlights organizations that have gone to great lengths to protect their service users from loan sharks, as well as successfully support people who have been subjected to this vicious circle of debt.

“Our reach would not be as great without the hard work and dedication of our partner organizations and supporters, who give their time and energy every day to stop loan sharks and protect people from these harmful practices.

“Just Credit Union has been a brilliant partner to work with and has continually gone out of its way to root out loan sharks in their county. They have now been upgraded to Partner Plus level for all their hard work. »

Loan sharks are criminals who target vulnerable people, charging them exorbitant interest rates and threatening them with violence or harm to their families if they do not repay their loan. This crime causes serious financial, social and psychological harm to individuals and families.

A recent report by the Center for Social Justice (CSJ) estimated that up to 1.08million people could be in debt to loan sharks in England, with some moneylenders demanding sexual favors as repayment from borrowers.

Warning signs that you might be dealing with a loan shark include missing documents when making a loan, refusing to give detailed loan information, intimidation and threats, taking items such as a bank card or passport until the debt is repaid. paid, and to take things from you if you don’t pay on time.

Local residents, charities, community and voluntary groups, schools and statutory bodies can apply for grants of up to £5,000 for activities that highlight the dangers of loan sharks.

The Stop Loan Sharks Community Fund is made available from money seized from convicted loan sharks under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA). Organizations will need to demonstrate the positive impact their project would have on their community and how it will help fight loan sharks.

To find out more about the grants and to apply, go to

The deadline for submitting applications is Thursday, June 30, 2022.

If you or someone you know has been affected by illegal money lending you can contact the Stop Loan Sharks confidential 24 hour helpline on 0300 555 2222 or access online support at www Live chat is available on the website between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Find out how your organization can apply for Stop Loan Sharks partner recognition and access great benefits at


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