Cinderella’s daughter, Cindy, would like to go to the ball, but Cinderella doesn’t have enough money to buy her a dress. What does she do? Will Cindy go to the ball? This is a dilemma that affects lots of people and was the setting for a unique panto performed in three primary schools this week for children and their parents.

The ‘Cinderella’s Dilemma’ pantos were commissioned by housing provider Thirteen, in partnership with the England illegal money lending team, and were performed by north east theatre group, Blowin’ a Hooley. They aimed to raise awareness of the dangers of loan sharks by using a real-life situation and presenting it in a fun and engaging way to appeal to a younger audience.

The panto was performed at Caldicotes Primary Academy in Middlesbrough, West View Primary School in Hartlepool and Rosebrook Primary School in Stockton.

Fiona Heighton, financial support services manager at Thirteen said: “The pupils and parents enjoyed a real festive treat with this panto. Blowin’ a Hooley have a truly unique way of getting the message across about the dangers of loan sharks that allowed the children to really enjoy the performances, but at the same time, discourage their parents from taking out a loan with an illegal money lender.

“Loan sharks cause misery and hardship in local communities across our region. The pantos were just one part of our ongoing campaign, working with partner agencies to help stamp them out.”

To support the pantos there is also a credit union incentive currently running for parents and staff at each of the three schools.

Speaking after the pantomime, LIAISE Manager Cath Williams of the England Illegal Money Lending Team said: “We’re delighted to have collaborated with Thirteen and Blowin’ a Hooley. What a fantastic performance. The ‘fairy godmother’ was just the right amount of intimidating, the kids booed him admirably, were up dancing and really enjoyed themselves. It was a great way to get the message across that loan sharks should be avoided.

“With Christmas fast approaching, now is often the time when people find their finances most stretched – meaning it is also the time when loan sharks are most likely to strike. It’s important that families avoid loan sharks over the festive period and report any concerns they may have about illegal money lending to us, so we can take action.”

Headteacher at West View Primary School, Mrs Haylock, said: “The children were very excited to see the performance as this is new for us at West View Primary School.  It was lovely to see our families attending alongside their children.”

If you have been the victim of a loan shark, help is at hand. Call 0300 555 2222 to speak to the team in confidence or visit www.stoploansharks.co.uk. Thirteen customers can also speak to their local neighbourhood coordinator.