A week-long awareness campaign has been launched in Evesham in its fight against loan sharks.

The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT), in collaboration with Rooftop Housing Group, has organised the initiative dubbed 'Bite Back Week'.

The focus is to highlight the dangers of illegal money lenders and shed light on the available alternatives.

Sid the Shark, the IMLT mascot, will kickstart the week on April 29, engaging the public in Evesham High Street by distributing leaflets between 10.30am to 2pm.

Events are also lined up for May 2, starting with an information stall and walkabout near the Spar in Pershore Road, Hampton, from 11am to 12.30pm.

Tony Quigley, head of IMLT, said: "Often illegal lenders are well known in communities and are often introduced to borrowers through friends or family members.

"This is where the illegal lenders come in, preying on people when they are at their most vulnerable.

"We want people to be fully aware of the signs of an illegal lender and the other options they have for accessing credit safely, such as credit unions."

Boris Worrall, group chief executive of Rooftop Housing Group, said: "Loan sharks have a real impact on local people and communities, not just in terms of making household debts worse, but also the wider health and well-being effect on parents, children and individuals who are facing financial hardship.

"At Rooftop, we are here for our customers and understand that many face challenges."

This year marks two decades since IMLT's inception, a period during which the team has supported more than 31,500 people, written off more than £91.2 million worth of illegal debt and secured more than 418 prosecutions for illegal money lending.

Anyone affected by illegal money lending can reach out to Stop Loan Sharks through their 24/7 hotline on 0300 555 2222 or access support online at stoploansharks.co.uk.