Oldham Labour Apprentices out to catch loan sharks

Oldham Labour Apprentices Shaid and Zane asking a question at October Full Council.

Oldham Labour Apprentices Shaid and Zane asking a question at October Full Council.

Oldham Labour Apprentices are set to hold a public meeting with councillors and Trading Standards this month to discuss the dangers of loan sharks and how people can be supported to avoid them.

At Oldham Council’s latest Full Council meeting a fortnight ago, two residents stood up during public question time to quiz Cabinet Member for Co-Operatives and Neighbourhoods Cllr Jean Stretton on what the Council is doing to protect residents from loan sharks.

Zane Brown (24, from Medlock Vale) and Shaid Mushtaq (33, from Waterhead) spoke on behalf of the Oldham Labour Apprentices, a group of 17 young people who live, work or study in Oldham and who are learning about local democracy and the role of Labour councillors – the first scheme of its kind in England.

Zane said, “Loan sharks have always sought to profit from poverty, but at a time when the Government’s Welfare Reforms are hitting Oldhamers hard, and in the run-up to Christmas when money is even tighter, we feel that the risks of people being tempted to borrow money from them are higher than ever.”

Cllr Stretton explained that the Council is working in partnership with the England Illegal Money Lending Team to encourage schools and colleges in Oldham to sign up to receive free lesson plans which will be available from December.  These preventative lesson plans cover key stages 2, 3, 4, and 5 and educate young people about financial inclusion, whilst talking sensitively about loan sharks.

Cllr Jean Stretton offered to host a meeting with the Oldham Labour Apprentices and residents to hear their concerns and ideas.

Cllr Jean Stretton offered to host a meeting with the Oldham Labour Apprentices and residents to hear their concerns and ideas.

Cllr Stretton added, “The Illegal Money Lending Team offers a dedicated helpline for individuals to report intelligence.  However, some victims are understandably reluctant to report this information via the telephone and prefer to speak to someone face to face.  As a result, the Council is looking to create a network of reporting centres across the Borough, which would provide an alternative method for residents to report intelligence.”

The Council also supports the work of the Oldham Credit Union to work with residents to manage their finances and provide affordable loans. The Council shares intelligence with the Illegal Money Lending Team and supports their investigations as well as communicating the illegal activities of loan sharks at every opportunity.

Cllr Stretton agreed to meet with the Oldham Labour Apprentices and residents to discuss their concerns about loan sharks and hear their ideas of new ways to raise awareness and prevent people from resorting to them. There will be a public meeting with Cllr Stretton and officers from Trading Standards at 6.30pm on Tuesday 26th November in the Council Chamber at Oldham Civic Centre. If you would like more information or to confirm your intention to attend, please e-mail leadersoffice@oldham.gov.uk

Oldham Labour Apprentices visit Regional Conference

L-R: Ruji, Andy Burnham MP (Leigh; Shadow Secretary of State for Health), Zane and Jonaya.

Three of the Oldham Labour Apprentices attended the Labour North West Regional Conference recently in Blackpool on Saturday (2nd November), the Youth day of the three day long event.

Ruji, Jonaya and Zane attended plenary speeches and workshops, were mentioned favourably in General Secretary Ian McNicol’s speech, and met leading North West Labour MPs such as Shadow Health Minister Andy Burnham.

Here’s what they had to say about the day:

“Throughout the day we heard some fantastic and inspiring speeches by Arnie Graf, an American activist who fought for civil rights. We also met with Rt. Hon Andy Burnham MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Health who discussed the effects of cuts to the NHS on low income families and deprived communities and how they will continue to suffer if we don’t make changes. My particular favourite speaker of the day was Maria Eagle MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, as I have a keen interest in the environmental sector. Meeting Alison McGovern MP, Stephen Twigg MP and Lindsay Hoyle MP was also a highlight as we met them privately and received tips on how to start a political career.The experience has been great and has got me excited about the projects that Young Labour has coming up in the next couple of weeks!” – Ruji

“I had a great time at conference; I met many people from different backgrounds who all had an interesting story to tell. Though it was especially refreshing to meet people my own age who take an interest in politics and find out more about their ideas and how they got involved with the Labour Party. I particularly enjoyed Andy Burnham’s speech and the Q&A with some of the MPs who had attended the conference. I was also fortunate enough to meet Andy Burnham whilst I was there as well as Stephen Twigg, Lindsay Hoyle, Alison McGovern, and Julie Hilling who gave us some advice on how to become successful MPs/politicians; which I thought was very useful! All in all I would say it was a great experience and I will be going back next year!” – Jonaya.

L-R: Stephen Twigg MP (Liverpool West Derby), Julie Hilling MP (Bolton West), Zane, Jonaya, Alison McGovern MP (Wirral South), Ruji and Lindsay Hoyle MP (Chorley).

“The notable speech for me from the conference was from Arnie Graf who gave a speech about his experiences of the Civil Rights campaign in America. He said the reason why the campaign stayed so strong was because people had developed relationships with one another and this meant people were able to support each other in the tough times. The advice he gave was this was something that Labour must do to ensure people vote for Labour in 2015. This is down to the fact if people have a relationship with the Labour party they will make more of an effort to vote for Labour at the General Election. Arnie in the Youth Conference session got everyone to go and talk to someone they did not know to prepare them to be able to develop a relationship with people they have never met before.  Another thing I took away from the conference was the advice given to us by Lindsay Hoyle MP. Lindsay said when you are speaking in public you should always project yourself more than you think you should. This is because when you hear yourself back later you will not have been as loud as you thought you were.” – Zane

For more information about the Oldham Labour Apprentice scheme, please email leadersoffice@oldham.gov.uk or tweet us at@oldhamlabour