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Newcastle campaigners unite to fight menace of payday lenders

Simon Read
Newcastle lender 300x179 Newcastle campaigners unite to fight menace of payday lenders

It's hard to avoid payday lenders in Newcastle as I discovered on a trip to the City in May. Here's one at Grainger Market slap-bang next to a bookies!

Concerned people in the north-east will gather in Newcastle on Sunday to register their discontent with the mega-sponsorship deal local club Newcastle United have agreed with payday lender Wonga.

An earlier event held in February, soon after the sponsorship deal was announced,  saw Movement for Change activists and regional financial inclusion group Fincan ask people for their opinions on high cost credit.

Alison Baxter, Manager of Fincan said: “Many people we talked to described payday lending as “disgraceful” and “extortionate”. Expensive credit is a big problem for people here in the North East, especially as wages are lower here and austerity measures and welfare reform are starting to have an impact. We hope this event will be a chance for people to tell us what they have experienced and help us to support local credit unions to make a difference to their lives.”

The meeting comes after supporters of Bolton Wanderers were able to successfully persuade their club to turn their back on a shirt sponsorship deal with Quick Quid. Sheffield Wednesday had earlier turned down the high-cost lender while Millwall later followed suit.

It’s an issue that is close to the heart of Magpies fan Graham Brewis, who runs Clean Slate Financial Wellbeing Services.

“Wonga is a difficult name to avoid recently, even if you don’t support Newcastle United,” he said. “As it happens I am a season ticket holder at NUFC but let me tell you I have no allegiance with their sponsors.

That’s because in my real world job I witness first-hand the damage, misery and financial carnage that Wonga (and other payday lenders) can inflict on people who can’t repay the loan – in fact in most of the cases I deal with it’s a mystery how they got the loan in the first place.”

Emotive stuff. So I would urge anyone in the City on Sunday to pop down and chat to those assembled and pay particular attention to those who, as Graham says, “can tell you first-hand what it’s like to be on the wrong end of Wonga.”

The meeting is being held at St Thomas Church, Haymarket, Newcastle for an hour this Sunday at 12.30pm.

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