YOUNG people in Worcester took part in a football tournament at a community fete funded by convicted loan sharks.
In the match on Saturday, February 22, as part of Worcester Community Trust's Community Fete, youth members from the Horizon Centre, in Midland Road, battled it out in a penalty shoot out against the England Illegal Money Leading Team's mascot, Glenda the Lender.
Proceeds taken from loan sharks investigated and prosecuting by the team, in partnership with Worcestershire Regulatory Services, paid for the match and football coaching training for the youth players, who have since June last year completed their FA level one Football Coaching.
They now deliver a the Football Project started by the illegal money team every Friday between 6pm and 8pm.
Councillor Lynn Denham, cabinet member for Community Engagement at Worcester City Council, said she was pleased some of the confiscated was going towards helping local projects in the city.
She said: "Supporting safe, healthy activities so that no community is left behind is a good investment.
"This has enabled young people at Horizon Community Centre to train as football coaches so they can supervise younger children.
"Meeting Glenda the Lender mascot is a reminder that illegal loan sharks may come in many different shapes and sizes."
Cheryl Fereday, youth and community service co-ordinator at Worcester Community Trust, said the cash had helped young people engage further in their communities and support its younger members.
The football campaign, started as part of Men's Health Week, in June, was aimed at brekaing down the barriers which prevent men from coming forward to give statements against loan sharks as research by the team found that only 36 per cent of males affected by illegal money lending came forward.
Tony Quigley, head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “Illegal money lending can have a horrific impact on the life and well being of borrowers.
"People are left penniless and in fear of the loan sharks. We’d urge people not to suffer in silence but to report the crime to us so we can take action."
To report a loan shark, call the 24/7 confidential hotline on 0300 5552222, text ‘loan shark + your message’ to 60003, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or private message the team on facebook.com/stoploansharksproject.