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our Northern Ireland student-challenge

12 March 2009

The Financial Ombudsman Service - the free service set up by law to settle disputes between consumers and financial firms - today launches a competition for students in Northern Ireland.

In partnership with the Northern Ireland Consumer Council, the ombudsman is challenging students to come up with ideas on how they would promote the ombudsman service to young consumers. They can enter the competition by:

  • designing a web page (or social-networking page) or
  • producing the script for a podcast or online video or
  • writing an article or feature or
  • designing an advert or an advertising campaign.

Last year more than 15,000 people from Northern Ireland contacted the ombudsman service for help. In over 50% of the cases the ombudsman took on, consumers got compensation as a result. But general awareness of the ombudsman service - particularly with younger consumers - is still significantly lower in Northern Ireland than in other areas of the UK.

Julie Megrath, head of money affairs at the Northern Ireland Consumer Council, said:

The Consumer Council for Northern Ireland is delighted to be working with the Financial Ombudsman Service on this very worthwhile competition. We already know that consumers in Northern Ireland are the least savvy in the UK when it comes to managing money.

In the current economic climate, it is imperative that young people understand their rights in relation to money and feel confident as consumers. The Consumer Council wishes all participants the very best of luck.

David Cresswell, director of communications at the Financial Ombudsman Service, said:

We're excited to see just how bold and creative Northern Irish students can be - in coming up with ideas on how to promote the ombudsman. Banks, insurance and credit are part of every young person's life. So it's vital you know you can turn to the ombudsman for help, if you have a problem you can't sort out yourself.

for more information see:

Closing date for entries is 30 April 2009.

notes to editors:

To promote the Northern Ireland student-competition, the ombudsman service and consumer council have:

  • written to 240 schools, universities and colleges across Northern Ireland - to ask for their help in encouraging students to get involved;
  • sent over 100 promotional posters to teachers in Northern Ireland;
  • contacted 50 influential youth-clubs and student unions.

The judging panel consists of:

  • Linda McAuley: presenter, BBC Radio Ulster
  • Sara McCartan: chairperson, Northern Ireland Youth Forum
  • Julie Megrath: head of money affairs, NI Consumer Council
  • David Cresswell: director of communications, Financial Ombudsman Service

media enquiries

for the Northern Ireland Consumer Council:

  • Paula Gunn – 028 9067 4816 or 078 2514 7496

for the Financial Ombudsman Service:

  • Emma Parker or David Cresswell – 020 7964 0966
    (out of hours – 0771 8658 306)