Pictured above: the cast from the show
Kids from the Bishop Auckland Theatre Hooligans (BATH) group are biting back against loan sharks with their latest production.
The six-act show, which is taking place at Auckland Castle on Wednesday, July 15, is the result of a co-ordinated effort between the King James I Academy, the Police, local businesses and the National Illegal Money Lending Team. It aims to educate the audience regarding the potential pitfalls of borrow money from illegal lenders, and to show them that there is an alternative.
Detective Constable Keith Philpott, an Organised Crime Group Tactical Advisor with Durham Constabulary, said: “We know that loan sharks prey on vulnerable people in and around Bishop Auckland. When people borrow from these unscrupulous and unregulated sources, the results can be devastating. The highest interest rate offered by a loan shark was an extortionate 131,000% APR. The reality is often that the borrower cannot afford to repay the debt, which continues to build up over time. It can have a massive impact on families, the results of which hit adults and children alike.
“The theatre production has been devised to help protect those vulnerable people; to show them an alternative where they might not feel there is one. The backing of local businesses, in particular the bank Santander and the owners of Auckland Castle, demonstrates the strength of feeling locally on this topic.
“We hope that the stories portrayed in the show will help us get some very important messages across and that, ultimately, people will see there is another choice to borrowing from a loan shark.”
Jacqui Kennedy Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team said: “Illegal money lending is a despicable crime which causes nothing but harm to our communities. These lenders may appear to be offering a community service but borrowers are often forced to pay back far and above what they have borrowed and can afford. Many are subjected to threats, violence or other callous enforcement methods. We would urge anyone who has been the victim of a loan shark to report them in confidence on 0300 555 2222, as we can help”
Nick Grieveson, the Head Teacher of King James I Academy, said: “We are delighted that our students are taking part in this project. It is important for young people to understand, at an early age, the perils associated with borrowing money from unscrupulous lenders. The performances help us all to be able to understand how easy it is to become indebted to criminals.
“As well as creating the dramatic performances, staff and pupils are also developing an innovative financial support package for young people as a part of their PSHE curriculum; this will include the development of a credit union and a school bank. These initiatives will help young people to develop positive financial habits and to better understand how to access legitimate sources of funding to support their personal, career and entrepreneurial ambitions.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Hogg attended a preview of the show on 7 July, and had the opportunity to give feedback on the performance. He said: "These young people have delivered a truly excellent production. Each section of the show delivers hard-hitting messages and hidden truths about what individuals and families have to suffer, if they become vicims of loan sharks. I have no doubt that this will help the public learn more about illegal money lending and hope that some people will think twice before approaching a loan shark, and seek assistance from a credit union instead."
Posted on Wednesday 8th July 2015