Step Together at Venus

Step Together offers support to mums who have children who are not in their care. This can be a really difficult time for mums. You may feel alone, or not know where to turn. In this situation Step Together can support you in looking to the future and reaching for your goals. We can provide information, advice and support with a range of issues including contact with your children, housing, mental health and managing your money.

They offer:
• One-to-one outreach support
• One-to-one counselling
• Group sessions

If you or somebody you know has a child not in their care, you can call Venus for a
chat. They accept self-referrals and referrals from professionals. You can make a
referral by phone, on our website, by email or face to face at their centre. If you would like more information please contact Leah or Kati.

Step Together Referral Form

Step Together Criteria

The Venus Centre 215 Linacre Lane,
Bootle, Merseyside L20 6AD.
T: 0151 474 4744
E: kati.oakes@venuscharity.org
http://www.venuscharity.org
Venus Centre

Step Together Event - Venus

 

Help available to Loan Shark Victims who have been bitten over Festive period

January is traditionally known as the ‘blue month’ or the ‘money hangover’ as people are often strapped for cash after splurging big amounts on Christmas.

January is also the time of year where loan sharks start to bite and chase victims for the first repayment on a Christmas loan. Due to people being short of money, some borrowers might fail to meet the first settlement and receive threats from the lender. This is when a loan shark’s true colours and motive begin to show.

The Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) – a national team that investigate and prosecute loan sharks – are here to help victims who have fallen into deep waters with a loan shark during the festive season.

The team – who run a 24hour hotline all year round – are made up of Investigators and support officers who meet with victims on a daily basis and build up prosecution files to stop loan sharks in their deceiving tracks.

Victims who have been bitten over the festive period or who are currently being put through a miserable time because of a loan shark are being urged to contact the IMLT to report what’s happening.

The team will take information anonymously and in confidence; you don’t have to give your name and an officer will go through your options first before taking the report.

Merseyside’s Deputy Police Commissioner, Cllr Emily Spurrell, said: “Christmas is an expensive time and it can be tempting to access cash quickly from a loan shark to purchase those all-important presents.

“But what starts out as a small loan can quickly escalate into something much more serious. January is a time when borrowers may find themselves trapped by spiralling debt and facing intimidation, threats and even violence.

“Loan sharks are unscrupulous criminals who prey on vulnerable victims, causing untold misery.

“But borrowers do not have to live in fear, there is help and support available. If you do find yourself a victim of a loan shark then do not suffer in silence – speak out by contacting Merseyside Police on 101 or, if it is an emergency, 999 or get in touch with the Illegal Money Lending team 24 hour hotline on 0300 555 2222.”

What is a loan shark?

A loan shark is someone who lends money without the correct authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). It is a criminal offence to lend money without authorisation and can lead to a 2-year prison sentence and/or £5,000 fine.

How do I know if I’ve borrowed from a loan shark?

Loan sharks typically start off friendly and are often heard of through word of mouth. It could be a friend, colleague, neighbour or someone who is well known in the community for helping others out financially.

If you have had a cash loan and can answer yes to one or more of these questions, you might have borrowed from a loan shark:

  • Did they not give you paperwork?
  • Did they add huge amounts of interest or APR to your loan?
  • Have they threatened you?
  • Are you scared of people finding out?
  • Have they taken your bank card, benefit card, passport, watch or other valuables from you?

The IMLT will be with you every step of the way from the moment you make the call. You will receive one-to-one support; this might be help with housing, debt issues or referrals for health problems.

Tony Quigley, Head of the Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “January is a difficult month for some people. It can be even more of a glum time for loan shark victims as lenders start chasing them for the first repayment on their Christmas loan. We want to reassure victims that they have not broken the law and help and support is available. If you or someone you know has been bitten by a loan shark during the festive period, please call us on 0300 555 2222 or visit www.stoploansharks.uk.”

To check if a money lender is licensed, borrowers can also search the Financial Services Register: https://register.fca.org.uk/

Charity Commission issues warning to the VCF sector on mandate fraud

The regulator urges charities to review their financial controls so they don’t fall prey to fraudsters who try to persuade them to change direct debits or standing orders to their benefit

Mandates: charities urged to watch out for fraud
Mandates: charities urged to watch out for fraud

The Charity Commission has urged charities to review their financial controls to avoid falling foul of mandate fraud, in which people or organisations are persuaded to change direct debits or standing orders to bank accounts controlled by fraudsters.

The regulator issued a notice today saying it had become aware of mandate fraud attempts in which the fraudster had been able to use the email address of a regular contact at a legitimate organisation to deceive charities into changing their bank details.

This type of fraud can also involve the fraudster impersonating an organisation by using direct mail, using headed paper and a company logo to lend credibility to the attempt.

The commission said it recommended that trustees and charity professionals familiarise themselves with the Metropolitan Police’s mandate fraud advice and ensure that the charity has sound authorisation and monitoring procedures in place for changing bank details and managing payments.

The regulator said that any request to change bank account details was an unusual occurrence and should be treated with suspicion.

Its advice on how to avoid falling foul of such attempts included checking all requests for a change of bank details using contact information held separately by the charity and by being suspicious of any such requests until independently verified.

Michelle Russell, director of investigations, monitoring and enforcement at the Charity Commission, said the cases the regulator heard about increasingly involved cunning tactics by fraudsters to gain the trust of their victims.

“At the heart of charity is trust, but when it comes to control of charity finances it’s crucial that vigilance and caution are the key watchwords,” she said.

“It is also a timely reminder for trustees and senior charity staff to reflect on how fraud-aware their employees and volunteers are, and to review their charity’s financial controls.”