Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust (NDHT) has received national recognition for its work in raising awareness of the dangers of borrowing from loan sharks.
The Trust has been recognised by the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) for its initiatives tackling loan sharks and making communities safer.
NDHT now has Partner Recognition accreditation and is the first NHS Trust in the Southwest to achieve this status.
The new accreditation programme recognises how the Trust works alongside IMLT to protect patients, staff and visitors from illegal money lending and helps victims access confidential advice and support from specialist services.
The Trust has supported staff, directed partners to training and carried out regular communications and campaigns with patients and partners to raise awareness of loan sharks and how to report them.
The IMLT investigates and prosecutes illegal money lenders while supporting those who have borrowed money from a loan shark.
Loan sharks are increasingly using social media platforms to advertise their illegal loans and target potential victims.
A recent campaign by IMLT, called #SharkFreeSurfing, ran across the Stop Loan Sharks and NDHT social media platforms, with the aim of encouraging not just victims, but also the wider community to report illegal money lending activity.
Anna Brimacombe, Nurse Consultant Safeguarding Lead at NDHT said: “We are delighted to receive ‘Partner Recognition’ status with the IMLT. It is important that we work with all partner agencies to reduce risks, prevent and protect people in our community from this awful crime. Receiving this recognition is the start of a journey and at NDHT we will continue to work with the IMLT to protect our communities from the perils of loan sharks.”
Tony Quigley, Head of England Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “We would like to congratulate NDHT on its partner recognition award and thank them for their outstanding efforts tackling loan sharks.
“We are extremely grateful for the support of our partners across the country and rely on them to act as our eyes and ears in communities. By working together, we can stamp out illegal money lending and protect residents from this awful crime.
“We continue to encourage people to come forward if they have been affected by this crime. You are not alone and we will support you.”
Anyone with concerns about loan sharks can contact the Stop Loan Sharks 24-hour confidential helpline on 0300 555 2222 or access support online at www.stoploansharks.co.uk. Live Chat is available on the website from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.