Stained glass windows at Runcorn heritage site warn of the dangers of loan sharks

The artwork was a collaboration between elementary school children, a community interest society of artists, the police and a national agency that prosecutes loan sharks. (IMLT)

The dangers of loan sharks are the subject of a stained glass pixel art project launched at Norton Priory in Runcorn.

Digital Arts Box CIC has partnered with the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) and the Cheshire Constabulary to develop the exhibit to raise awareness of the risks of illicit moneylenders, how to spot the warning signs and the support available.

The IMLT is a national agency which investigates and prosecutes loan sharks across England, as well as supporting borrowers and public information campaigns.

Throughout 2021, Digital Arts Box has visited St Berteline’s, St Mary’s, St Augustine’s, Astmoor and Halton Lodge Primary Schools in Runcorn, as well as the Blue Rooms art group in Norton Priory, in addition to hosting workshops for more than 200 students.

During the visits, the Digital Arts Box team, alongside IMLT and Cheshire Police, discussed the different types of illegal moneylenders, how they work and who to contact to get help if a young person suspects that someone they know might be in contact with them.

Participating students were then taught the basics of creating pixel art so they could create a unique loan shark-themed pixel art piece.

The completed work spans nine floor-to-ceiling stained glass windows in the atrium of Norton Priory’s main building.

Seven windows showcase over 230 individual works of art created by Halton youth and professional graphic designers.

Its official unveiling was scheduled to take place from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday, February 26.

The finished artwork is made up of over 230 individual artworks. (IMLT)

A spokeswoman for IMLT, which has led the prosecution of loan sharks for the past decade, said: ‘Publishers come in many forms – they can be a regular in the local pub, a relative in the playground or a friend of a friend.

“The artwork depicts seven types of loan sharks to highlight the important message that anyone could be a loan shark and to be aware of the signs.”

The launch event is free, and visitors can participate in activities such as creating pin badges and pixel art.

Anyone concerned about illegal money lending can call the Stop Loan Sharks 24-7 helpline confidentially on 0300 555 2222 or access the online helpline at www.stoploansharks.co.uk.

Live chat is available on the website between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Norton Priory is on Tudor Road, Manor Park, Runcorn, Cheshire.

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