Home Money How loan shark profits are used to prevent the next generation from going into debt

How loan shark profits are used to prevent the next generation from going into debt

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Lessons for life: Teacher Liam Hussey hopes to help his students manage their finances safely in the future

At Ormiston Bolingbroke Academy in Runcorn, Cheshire, a Year 7 class is using artificial intelligence software in school.

That’s not normal practice, but they’re not in a normal lesson.

Students are using the software to generate images of what a loan shark might be like, as part of a “life lessons” curriculum aimed at preparing them for when they leave school.

Part of this includes understanding how to manage your finances and highlighting the risks of illegal loans, something your teacher says is a problem in the area.

Lessons for life: Teacher Liam Hussey hopes to help his students manage their finances safely in the future

What you are expected to learn from today’s AI task is that there are no strict rules about the physical appearance of an illegal moneylender.

“A loan shark could be someone older, it could be someone younger, it could be someone from their local community or it could be someone who maybe looks like a professional,” said Liam Hussey, head of PSHE at the school.

‘They are getting a life lesson that may not be entirely shocking to them right now. But later in life, they will begin to manage their own money and may need to borrow money under certain circumstances.

‘Our local safeguarding data tells us that we serve a disadvantaged area and we know that illegal money lending takes place in our area. I would bet money that some of our (student) families have become engaged and are currently associating with loan sharks.’

Classes like these aim to raise awareness about illegal lenders and the risks associated with loans, helping to prevent students from going into debt in the future, as well as giving children practical knowledge on how to manage their finances.

The AI-generated images of the students have now been compiled into a poster displayed at the school, raising awareness among other students and parents, with a QR code taking them to the Stop Loan Sharks website.

Resources for the session were funded by England’s Illegal Money Lending Team, a public body that aims to prevent usury using money confiscated from illegal moneylenders. An outside company, Digital Arts Box, teaches the class.

Poster: The children used AI to generate images of a loan shark, revealing that they can appear in many different ways, and then created this poster for their school.

Poster: The children used AI to generate images of a loan shark, revealing that they can appear in many different ways, and then created this poster for their school.

“They are actually paid to use the proceeds of crime obtained from convicted loan sharks, which I like, because they are loan sharks paying to educate future generations not to use loan sharks,” said IMLT operations manager Cath Wohlers. to This is Money.

For Hussey and other teachers looking to engage students in similar life skills curricula, IMLT-funded resources offer the opportunity to gain expert opinions.

Hussey said: “For a geography teacher to stand up and talk about loan sharks, or for a history teacher to talk about drug abuse, can be an abstract concept in many cases.” Incorporating that external experience helps convey clear and consistent messages.’

“I think the fact that this was hands-on and creative got the students more involved…and, as a result, they will remember more of it.”

The IMLT offers a wide range of resources to schools, both in the form of free downloadable materials and funded programs such as Ormiston’s.

For primary school-aged children, the IMLT highlights topics at a basic level, covering “the difference between needing something and wanting something.” What is money? Where does the money come from?’ Wohlers said.

“It’s amazing when you go to primary schools and ask seven- and eight-year-olds where the money comes from and they say things like, ‘Oh, go and get it out of that hole in the wall.'”

Despite this, Wohlers believes that in most cases children are observers, even if they don’t understand exactly what is happening.

“We’ve had kids tell us they hid behind the couch on a Thursday night because the money man is calling,” he said.

“Years ago, a girl who had obviously seen a police drama wrote us a letter because she gave us the loan shark’s license plate and said, ‘My mom cries when she calls.’

However, in some ways this can be a danger.

“One risk is having an impact on their mental health and well-being right now,” Wohlers said, “and the other is that it becomes normalized for them in the future so that they think this is how you borrow money.”

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Meanwhile, for older age groups, resources are going towards a more forceful approach, aimed at highlighting the dangers of illegal lending.

“We have a victim video of a man who was 17 when he first borrowed from a loan shark and ended up repaying £90,000 on a £250 loan over a 17-year period,” Wohlers said.

An extreme example, Wohlers admits, but the age of the victim affects students who are at a similar stage in their lives.

“Years ago, there was a loan shark in Sheffield who lent money to a 14-year-old boy, with his PlayStation as collateral for the loan,” he said.

Not to mention loans to schoolchildren, Wohlers claims that the IMLT has previously dealt with a loan shark who sent his children to the schoolyard to find out which children did not have new soccer boots or had not been on vacation that year, to be able to approach their parents with loan offers.

“I don’t think you’re too young to understand,” Wohlers said. “If you’re a child, it’s scarier if you don’t know what your parents are dealing with, but you’re just aware of this feeling.” of fear and there’s this shadowy figure.

“If you can put a name to it, that almost helps.”

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