The Diocese of Rochester has signed up to an anti-loan shark charter.
The Rt Rev James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester, pledged to help foster a zero-tolerance attitude to illegal money lending on Monday. He hosted civic and community-based organisations which support victims of loan sharks to send a clear message.
The signing was organised in conjunction with the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) to raise awareness of the problem and help people in the local community.
“I am so pleased that as a Diocese we are involved with this campaign. The effect of loan sharks on people’s lives can often seem quite hidden. Said Bishop James.
“Churches are very good at providing a network through which these stories, as well as information about where people can get help, can be brought together to build a compelling case about why we need to do more to take illegal money lending out of our communities.” He added.
Representing the Church of England across Medway, north west Kent and the London boroughs of Bromley and Bexley, the Diocese also received an award from the Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) for awareness raising activities it has already undertaken
Caroline Clarke, Diocesan Community Engagement and Social Action Adviser said:
“Loan sharks devastate the most vulnerable people in our communities, often causing them to get into a spiral of debt and intimidation which can lead to homelessness and even suicide.
“This is totally unacceptable and the church is making a stand by uniting the organisations within our communities to raise awareness about the dangers of borrowing money from a loan shark and to help victims by getting the Stop Loan Sharks helpline out there.”
The Team are urging anyone who has been the victim of a loan shark to report them in confidence on 0300 555 2222.