Dan McCarthy Stott, Vice President Welfare at Keele Students’ Union tells us how the team at Keele are are campaigning to get pay day lenders off their campus and out of their community.
In March 2013, KeeleSU submitted two successful bids to the the Stop Loan Sharks Project and was granted £1,000 from the Department of Business Innovation and Skills to develop an interactive budgeting, advice and campaign website called ‘KeeleSU Save Me Money’.
The website and associated campaign is due to be launched at Keele in September 2013. We believe this is a highly important campaign in the current economic landscape, with illegal lending and payday loans having a negative effect on students’ lives in and around Keele.
A survey sent out to our Postgraduate students’ found that one in four of those who responded were tempted to take out a payday or short term loan to pay for fees and 2.33% were tempted to pursue illegal lending streams to fund their Postgraduate courses. But there are alternative funding options out there, our Advice Unit in the Students’ Union offers interest free short term loans as does the University’s Student Financial Support – we need to raise awareness of these legitimate and safe funding sources.
In April 2013, we led a Postgraduate Funding workshop to help prospective Postgraduate students’ source safe and legal funding streams. We’ll be running more of these next year as well as organising campaigns against payday lenders.
Red Card for Wonga campaign
Our first campaign will be led by Joe Baker, our Vice President for the Athletics Union and Sport, which will appeal to local football clubs and sports groups to not accept sponsorship deals and advertising contracts from payday loan companies such as ‘Wonga’ who were recently in the press, after Papiss Cisse refused to wear the new Newcastle United Strip.
Bolton FC also reversed their contract with QuickQuid, after opposition from fans. We want to join this national campaign and petition our local clubs to reject sponsorship deals from these companies until the government changes legislation around payday loans.
Petition to the Government
To complement our Red Card for Wonga and Save Me Money campaigns, I will be asking students to sign a petition against payday loan companies. I will also be writing to local MPs and the government, asking them to change the legislation currently in place.
There have been recent government movements towards change in the law, but we still need to show our support for higher restrictions and better regulations over these companies.
We at Keele are very much in support of the NUS Stop Advertising Payday Lenders Campaign and in the new academic year we as a Students’ Union will be making pledges in support of the new NUS campaign, and asking senior management at the University to do the same.