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- RESPONDING TO GAMBLING HARM – DEVELOPING CAPABILITY
1. Introduction: One of the three strands to Gambling Harm UK’s (GHUK) Strategic Model for responding to gambling harm is to Develop Capability. This along with Creating Connectivity and Maximising Capacity is part of creating the systematic approach required to respond to gambling harm as a public health issue. One of the ways GHUK is looking to Develop Capability is through providing awareness sessions to health and other professionals so that with the further knowledge and information we help them to acquire, they become more informed and so more able to help those who approach them that are experiencing gambling harm. Over the last month GHUK has attended two Time to Learn sessions for primary care practitioners across the Mid & South Essex Integrated Care System (M&SEICS) which has a resident population of 1.2 million. A further one is planned in December. Responses to these awareness sessions have been extremely positive to date with over 50 primary care practitioners confirming that following the awareness session, they would change their clinical practice with immediate effect in order to support those affected directly or indirectly by gambling harm. Following these two sessions, GHUK was approached by Dr Ajetunmobi who is a GP within (M&SEICS) to ask if we would run our awareness session for the GP trainees who he had a training responsibility for. After an initial one to one meeting with Dr Ajetunmobi the awareness session for the GP trainees was run last Wednesday 8th November 2023. 2. Feedback Results Thirty-three of those GP trainees who attended the 90-minute awareness training session provided feedback on the value of the session. The questions asked and the organisation of the feedback were both determined by Dr Ajetunmobi. Dr Ajetunmobi has kindly now forwarded these results onto me. These are shown below. The positive feedback and comments help to provide assurance to GHUK that the work we are delivering is seen of value by medical staff. “Brilliant presentation on an interesting not commonly spoken about topic. I was really engaged throughout.” GHUK would like to thank Dr Ajetunmobi for approaching us to provide our awareness training, which enables GHUK to take a further small step forward in helping to develop the future capability required to respond to gambling harm as a public health issue. 3. Feedback Output
- MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS – PREVENTING GAMBLING HARM’S
1. Introduction: As part of the work programme being delivered by Gambling Harm UK (GHUK) within the Mid & South Essex Integrated Care System, some funding was obtained from the Essex Community Foundation Trust to enable GHUK to run preventing gambling harm awareness workshops for young people. This funding was awarded from the Mid and South Essex Mental Health 'Inequalities' Programme. As with previous young people workshops delivered by GHUK, the aim of these is to increase students understanding of the risks associated with gambling, and to increase their awareness of how to respond in circumstances of experiencing or noticing gambling harm. In recognition of past feedback from students and with the intention of giving an increased focus around potential risks of impact on mental health, GHUK produced an updated awareness programme for this group of sessions. This programme has now been delivered to three schools and one college reaching over 350 young people during the last month and the feedback from those sixth form and college students who have completed our evaluation questionnaires has been extremely positive. 2. Feedback Results Those attending our sessions are asked to complete a pre and post evaluation survey as shown below. Students are advised these are not compulsory and are non-identifiable. To date 295 evaluation questionnaires have been returned from the four sessions delivered. The surveys asks students to grade their pre and post session understanding against the following six domains using a five point scale . Q1. “I understand what gambling related harm is” Q2. “I am aware of things that increase the chance of someone suffering gambling harm” Q3. “I can describe ways to help someone if their gambling behaviour worried me” Q4. “I would know where to go to talk about problems to do with gambling” Q5. “I am aware of skills and tools that can be used to prevent gambling harm” Q6. “I understand the techniques used by the gambling industry to persuade people to gamble” The average pre workshop scale score was: Q1 3.74; Q2 3.51; Q3: 2.89; Q4 2.86: Q5 2.74 & Q6. 3.60 The average post workshop scale score was: Q1. 4.39; Q2. 4.30; Q3 4.10; Q4 4.13; Q5. 4.10 & Q6. 4.43 This feedback shows an increase in awareness across all the 6 domains our training is focused around. The changes in awareness levels vary across the 6 domains, with largest change occurring in the “I am aware of skills and tools that can be used to prevent gambling harm” domain which increased from 2.86 to 4.13.. When the students were asked if they felt more informed about risks of gambling harm following the session 94% responded yes. Summary: The results from the first four of GHUK’s new young people workshops delivered in Chelmsford and Braintree indicate that students have valued these sessions. They have reported that their awareness levels have increased around risks of gambling harm and that they now feel better informed around how to respond in circumstances of experiencing or noticing gambling harm. Finally, when students were asked “After attending this workshop, do you feel it would be helpful for other people their age” 87% responded yes. GHUK looks forward to delivering further workshops over coming weeks. We would like to thank those schools, Writtle College and Anglia Ruskin University who have responded to our offer to run our new awareness programme and for enabling these sessions to be booked. John Gilham CEO Gambling Harm UK
- An Outline Strategic Model - Creating Connectivity, Developing Capability and Maximising Capacity
Around ten years ago my life changed forever. Was I expecting this change? No. What caused this change? Gambling harm. I had no idea despite having some understanding about other addictions that gambling could lead to such devastation for some. Over the last six years I have been on a journey learning more about gambling harm. A combination of reviewing research papers, listening, and speaking to both clinical and lived experience experts, meeting many individuals who have suffered gambling harm directly or indirectly, and through my own lived experience. In the first four years, my journey was focused on helping my son to start and sustain his recovery and on helping my family and myself to come to grips with what had happened to our lives, and how we could help ourselves to cope and live with what I now know are legacy gambling harms. During these four years and even prior to them, when looking back at the support my son and those who are affected others had needed, it was clear, that there were significant gaps in understanding, and in prevention, treatment, and sustainable recovery support services. Whilst I was not an expert in gambling harm, I was an experienced CEO and non-executive director, who had over thirty-five years of experience working in the health service, engaging with social care, education, and voluntary sector groups, and I had seen how other public health challenges could be addressed. So why was gambling harm a public health issue as I found out, not receiving the same structured systematic approach? Part of the reason why, was because it was an emerging public health issue. Also, unlike other addictions it was mainly hidden or often invisible and combined with stigma and shame this was preventing this topic from being openly discussed. Additionally, the actions by the gambling industry to normalise gambling with their marketing which implies gambling had no or low risk, meant that for many this was not a topic high on the agenda for those organisations who need to engage with delivering public health solutions. If I looked back on smoking, I could see a parallel with gambling all those years back. For decades the smoking industry adversely impacted population health. Only after significant harm to many, including those who had never smoked themselves but were affected others, were systematic public health measures introduced. I began to reflect on this situation and what I may be able to do, even if in only in a small way. Initially this was to share my lived experience and engage with some of those individuals I knew within health systems. The aim being to start to increase awareness. The response from these was supportive but a lack of knowing what needed to be done at that point, inhibited actions. Fortunately, for me around this time, Healthwatch Essex had identified gambling harm as an area of concern and this formed part of their addiction review programme. Chris, my son who was around 4 years into his recovery from gambling disorder at this point, offered his support to help them, and since that date Chris and I have established a close working relationship with them. Their addiction review report, together with my own thoughts and those of my son Chris, led me to develop an outline strategic model for responding to gambling harm as a public health issue. The aim of this was to develop a system approach for enabling the development and implementation of an integrated approach to prevention, treatment, and sustainable recovery. At this point I was fortunate to be appointed to Gambling Harm UK (GHUK) as its CEO. With the support of the charity's trustees, I was given the opportunity to use the charity’s own funds to work on piloting the outline strategic model. At its simplest level it consists of three linked strands which are, creating connectivity within a system, whilst simultaneously helping to develop capability and maximise capacity. What this means is briefly described below. Creating Connectivity Bring the right people and organisations together, with the purpose of focusing on gambling harm as an important public health issue, and gain recognition that an integrated joined up approach is essential for delivering the required response. Developing Capability Help to support the development of capability through increasing awareness of gambling harms and their impact on local population health. Thus, enabling the right people and organisations to assess how they can best bring their knowledge, skills, and other resources to help to respond to the issue in question. Maximising Capacity. Help to maximise system capacity by: - providing support to address any access barriers and to help reduce avoidable demand through assisting with prevention measures such as educating young people around risks of gambling. - engaging the voluntary sector to assist with signposting of individuals with gambling harm to relevant support or treatment services and where relevant offer their own services to help with achieving sustainable recovery from gambling harm and - developing a clearer understanding of need for services so that appropriate support can be commissioned. It is also based on creating system ownership of the issue and not dependency on one organisation or us as a charity. This is important to achieve sustainable service delivery. Three months ago, following a bid to the Essex Community Foundation, a small grant was awarded to our charity. This was to help us build on the work we had already delivered free to the system to date, and to enable us to grow and spread our work further across what is known as the Mid and South Essex Integrated Care System (ICS), which covers a population of around 1.2 million residents. The work we are progressing involves the following: Running awareness sessions for primary care practitioners at the Alliance Level. Within the Mid & South Essex ICS there are four of these. Engaging with key system organisations such as the Mid & South Essex NHS Foundation Trust with over 15,000 employees. Engaging with the Community and Voluntary Sector (CVS) via the various CVS district council organisations which exist across the ICS. and Providing access to free preventing gambling harm training to a group of schools within Braintree, Chelmsford, and Maldon. Also, to young people aged 17-24 years old at both the Anglia Ruskin University and Writtle College, all of whom form part of the Mid Essex Alliance. In addition, a range of other activities are being run in parallel. These include GHUK individuals becoming Trauma Ambassadors with Healthwatch Essex thereby raising gambling harm awareness at Healthwatch events. My liaising with personnel within the new NHS East of England (EoE) Gambling Treatment service provider and having discussions with public health leads across the ICS. Bit by bit this is helping us to create connectivity between organisations across the ICS. One recent example of this is us bringing together (Midlands Partnership NHS Trust (Inclusion) staff - part of the EoE NHS gambling treatment service) and Provide CIC staff, with GHUK to start work on developing content for the Essex Wellbeing Make Every Contact Count (MECC) system which will cover gambling harm. There is still lots more to do, and the full value of these inputs will take time to fully assess. However, early testimonials and feedback from those we are engaging with about our work and its approach, indicates that it is beneficial and seen of value. Examples of feedback received include: 1.Mid and South Essex NHS FoundationTrust: John Gilham, Chief Executive of Gambling Harm UK, attended the Mid and South Essex NHS Trust’s monthly “5pm Improvement Club” on 6 September 2023, providing a virtual session to Trust and broader heath care system staff about gambling harm, what it is, some of the drivers and consequences, as well as some signs of harm, and why and how to support people affected. John gave a passionate, informative, and insightful talk which was hugely valued by the audience, and feedback during and following from attendees was that the topic was very important, and they had learned a lot from the presentation. Colleagues from clinical, corporate, and operational teams posed questions to John to better understand how we could improve both as a care system and an employer in raising awareness of gambling harm and reducing stigma. As a result of this talk, a number of links and materials have been shared with the Trust and we will examine our current practice to identify where we can improve. We very much appreciated John’s contribution and are keen to support Gambling Harm UK in their vital work to help our population in this area. Charlotte Williams Chief Strategy & Improvement Officer Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust 2. Alliance Time to Learn Session’s for GP’s: Over 50 practitioners who have attended the two “Introduction to Gambling Harm” awareness sessions to date, have said they will now change their practice as a result of the gambling harm training delivered by GHUK. 3. Maldon and District CVS John speaks openly and informatively about his experience of gambling harm which resonates effectively with professionals in the voluntary sector. Often these professionals are well placed to understand the impact gambling can have on individuals and families. He is a compelling advocate for driving change and through Gambling Harm UK is able to effect that change. John has spoken at a community forum to the local sector which has led to opportunities to inform local asset mapping and signposting work, connections into mental health and men's health work and he is also able offer bespoke training. Gambling harm is often hidden and resources to help people affected not as easy to come by as other addictions so the work being undertaken by John and the team at Gambling Harm UK has the potential to be vitally important. Sarah Troop Director Maldon and District CVS 4.Castle Point CVS (CAVs) Gambling Harm UK’s endeavours are dedicated to the prevention and reduction of gambling harm. John Gilham, Chief Executive presented to an audience of over 100 people from local community organisations, health and social care, the Leader of Castle Point Council and the Mayor of Castle Point at CAVS Community event on the 25th October 2023. John’s presentation was compelling as he transparently spoke about the impact that gambling has not only on the person with the addiction but their family members, and others associated with them. The statistical detail that was presented, evidenced the scale of the challenge that faces our nation. Accessibility to on-line platforms, sophisticated and appealing marketing features strongly with not only the mature target audience but unfortunately with the rapidly growing younger population. CAVS membership groups are influential in their community and provide assistance and support to so many. As enablers the learning from John’s presentation of further educating and influencing on the subject of gambling harm, will be invaluable. Janis Gibson Chief Executive Officer Castle Point Association of Voluntary Services (CAVs) 5. Inclusion - NHS Midlands Partnership NHS Trust (EoE NHS Gambling Treatment Service) Gambling is impacting so many lives across all of our communities and it will be critical, as with other public health matters that we work together to raise awareness, learn together and ensure support is as easy to access as possible should it be needed. By working together with Gambling Harm UK and through the connections they are creating and opening, we can contribute more widely together in preventing the harm experienced and reducing any blocks that may exists for people who want to reach out for support. Andrew Ryan Operational Team We are looking forward as GHUK to developing this work further over coming months. A number of additional events have already been arranged across the ICS, including delivering our second Real Patient Simulated Based Medical Education Programme to 120-year 3 medical students at Anglia Ruskin University School of Medicine in November. With the increasing awareness and growing interest in the system, together with the presence of the new local EoE NHS gambling treatment service being delivered in Thurrock, there is now the foundation and the opportunity to further strengthen the connectivity, capability, and capacity within the system to help respond to those experiencing gambling harm as a public health issue. This work and developing our outline strategic model would not have been feasible without the help and support from those within the Mid & South Essex ICS. I would like to thank all those individuals who have responded to our request to meet and to discuss gambling harm and for then enabling GHUK to create connectivity between key people and organisations within the ICS by introducing us to their networks and inviting us to their events. Finally, I would also like to thank the following GHUK personnel who have contributed their time working with me within the Mid & South Essex ICS; my son Chris Gilham (Trustee), Dr Kishan Patel (Chair of Trustee’s), Lesley Buckland (Trustee) and Julie Martin (Associate). John Gilham CEO Gambling Harm UK
- Gambling Harm UK (GHUK) – Funding Decisions
In December 2022, our charity name was changed from Gambling Education Network to Gambling Harm UK. This change emerged from the trustees’ review of our work and a clearer understanding of the work we needed to do, in order to achieve the purpose of why the charity was established. On adopting our ethics policy, we discussed the challenging topic of financing and whether we should remain on the Gambling Commissions RET list. At that point having received only a £500 unconditional RET contribution to date, we decided to remain on the list. Recently we were approached by a gambling operator offering a £25,000 donation from their dormant balances. They asked us to raise an invoice so that they could make payment. The charity’s trustees discussed this matter and decided against accepting this donation. Whilst the trustees recognised that the funding may have helped to reduce pressure on our staff, volunteers and helped us towards our aims in the short term, they agreed that it was also important to maintain confidence in our value to be independent from industry influence. This is especially pertinent given the NHS's decision to stop accepting industry funding and in the context of our goals in achieving a public health approach to gambling harm. In discussing this offer, trustees also reflected on GHUK’s RET listing and decided remaining on this would not be appropriate. So as of the 21st September 2023, GHUK was removed from the RET list. We thought it was important to share our decision with our members and with others within the charity sector. Our decision is not intended to be critical of others who continue to remain on the RET list. GHUK’s trustees just believe it is the right decision for us. Raising funds continues to be a challenge. Regardless of this, we believe that to fulfil our purpose, we need to achieve financial independence via other routes. John Gilham CEO Dr Kishan Patel Chair of Trustees
- By all means, have a breakdown, just not on weekends, please!
It has taken me a few weeks to gain the courage and find the words to write this blog, as it is rather personal to me and about my own experience. I am an affected other of gambling harm for over 15 years and, in reality, over the 25-year relationship with my husband. Life became even more challenging after his gambling-related suicide in November 2021. My life has been a rollercoaster of mental health issues over this time, a mixture of depression, anxiety and now PTSD. Family life means I am usually alone at the weekends. I try not to contact friends as it's precious time for them to be with their partners and family. So on many occasions have been very lonely, having too much thinking time. It has resulted in me having, what I call, crisis days, where I overthink, bring myself down and become extremely low in my mood and thoughts. As for so many people, mental health and gambling harm can be very isolating and fraught with stigma. We cut ourselves off from the world to hide the shame we feel. On the days like these, I have usually turned to 24-hour charity telephone lines. They have become a lifeline and source of great comfort to me over the years. I can only express how grateful I am that they have always been there for me. But what brings me to write this difficult blog is what transpired just a few Sundays ago. I was having a particularly low crisis Sunday, my thought process had run wild, and I had brought myself to a point where I felt desperate. I could not distract myself or lighten my mood. My thoughts were dark and extremely sad, and I needed to talk to someone about my feelings over my husband's suicide. So I did what I always do and searched telephone numbers for suicide bereavement. I felt apprehension at sharing my thoughts and desperation over my current feelings, but I still dialled the number at 15.45 on Sunday afternoon. To get an answering machine message politely telling me that the office was closed and to call back at 9 am on Monday. So I did the next best thing, and at 15:46, I rang a 24-hour helpline I have used many times before. Tears streaming down my face, the phone is answered by another polite answering machine message again, politely telling me that all their lines were busy and I could call back later! This sent me completely spiralling into a black hole of despair for a few split seconds. Then my understanding and concern for others in the same position suddenly kicked in. I am lucky enough to have worked in the gambling harm charity sector for over three years. I have peer training and a sound awareness of mental health and crisis situations. I could control my thoughts and feelings at this point and consider how awful it could have been for somebody else. Somebody alone and in despair who didn't have my knowledge, someone like my husband who had reached his wit's end. What would have happened to them when reaching out for help and were rejected, not once, but twice? At a point where I knew my grief, guilt, and confusion were at a very low point. How would somebody else have coped in that situation, or even would they? Now, I am not here to criticise all of the fantastic work helpline charities do, but for myself and the millions of other service users that contact them monthly, there can not be times when answer phones are reached instead of real people. This country's mental health has suffered measurably since Covid, and with the added pressure of the cost of living and interest rate rises, we are all under much more stress than before. I have since tried contacting both charities involved, and of course, the issues are as expected volume of service users and funding. It is now when money needs to be made available to all charities that help with mental health, gambling harms, peer support, and bereavement (in fact, I could go on and on). I won't be dragged into the political war of words concerning funding. I will only talk from my heart, but things need to change. Something must change, and people need to become more important than profits. We must make the massive industries responsible for some of these addictions and mental health issues accountable. If support is not provided on mass and soon, then the already overwhelmed NHS will buckle, and we will lose even more lives too soon. Safe spaces and knowledgeable support must be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so lives aren't lost, and families aren't left heartbroken. I am not an isolated case, but please always remember to keep trying. There is somebody out there somewhere. Before you get to crisis, don't let stigma keep you quiet. Many online websites and support charities are already available and can be accessed via the internet. I have listed some below to help anybody needing to reach out. Samaritans: Telephone Number, free phone. 116 123 https://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help/contact-samaritan/talk-us-phone/ Cruse Bereavement Support: 0808 808 1677 https://www.cruse.org.uk/get-support/helpline/ National Gambling Helpline: 0808 8020 133 (24-hour) https://www.begambleaware.org/ngsn Domestic Violence Support: The free phone, 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247 https://refuge.org.uk/i-need-help-now/how-we-can-help-you/national-domestic-abuse-helpline/ Suicide Support: https://www.spuk.org.uk/national-suicide-prevention-helpline-uk/ Open from 6 pm to midnight every day on 0800 689 5652.
- Gambling Games Appeal to Children – Complaint to the ASA.
Gambling Harm UK has submitted a complaint to the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) about the proliferation of gambling games we believe have a ‘strong appeal’ to children and young people. Research has repeatedly found that children and young people are particularly vulnerable to gambling harms and can suffer potentially devastating life-long effects. Despite this, the Gambling Commission estimates that over 100,000 children aged 11-16 suffer harm from their own gambling. For this reason, the proliferation of games which appeal to children is unacceptable. We have previously surveyed our lived experience community to gauge opinion on whether certain games appealed to children. Due to the results of that survey and the introduction of updated guidance by the ASA, we endeavoured to investigate eleven of the top gambling sites. We found that whilst there were some improvements since our survey, a majority of the games we looked at were in breach of one or more of the ASA’s guidelines around ‘strong appeal’ to children. The full complaint letter and report can be found below: We received a response from the ASA, which maintained it was not failing to enforce standards. However, they committed to contacting each company in our report to ‘remind them of their responsibilities and highlighting any particular areas of concern’. They also committed to conducting a monitoring exercise this October (one year after the new guidance was published) to assess ‘whether there still remain any concerns about gaming tiles and strong appeal to under-18s’. We look forward to the results of this exercise and will re-examine the situation in October.
- Guest Blog - Sharon Collard Research Director at the University of Bristol's Personal Finance Centre
How FinTechs can help reduce harm from gambling By Sharon Collard Please note: This blog discusses harmful gambling and its impacts. In July 2023, a team from the Personal Finance Research Centre, FinTech West and the lived experience-led charity Gambling Harm UK delivered a workshop to consider how FinTech can help reduce harm from gambling. This was a great example of ‘grounded innovation’ in action: bringing FinTechs together with people who have lived experience of gambling harms to focus on real-life issues and how to solve them. It highlighted useful products and services that FinTech firms already offer as well as opportunities for further innovation. Most of all, it showed the invaluable contribution that experts-by-experience like Gambling Harm UK bring to the table. We are grateful to Higher Education Innovation Funding for funding the workshop. A key part of the workshop was Chris Gilham, Julie Martin and John Gilham from Gambling Harm UK sharing their own personal experiences, which illustrated the complex and messy nature of gambling problems and their serious long-term impacts. Chris told us about having been diagnosed with Adult ADHD just over eighteen months ago at almost 40 years of age, and how he has battled with his mental health since his mid-teens and using alcohol to cope. Then when he was 30 years old, having had no previous interest in gambling, he saw an advert and that day, he decided to try it. He explained that whilst gambling initially made him feel calmer, it wasn’t long before he was suffering from gambling harm. After almost five years of harm he finally found recovery following a two-day gambling binge, when he was planning to win and leave money to his family before ending his own life. Julie described the severe financial toll that her ex-husband’s gambling had on her and her children, meaning she had to work four jobs just to pay off loans he had taken out in her name, as well as the verbal, mental and sometimes physical abuse that she experienced. John (Chris’s dad) told us about his experiences as the parent of someone with a gambling addiction, how his life and that of his wife and family had been turned upside down and his role now supporting Chris in his recovery journey, including helping Chris keep tight control of his money. These real-life experiences really resonated with workshop participants – even if they had no experience of gambling harms. Our rich discussion touched on many issues including the links between ADHD and impulse behaviours such as gambling; the fact that there is no single reason for gambling problems; and the normalisation of gambling-like behaviours in online games that are so popular among children and young people, through features like microtransactions and loot boxes that are played to get an edge. John reminded us that 55,000 young people aged 11-16 in Britain are categorised as ‘problem’ gamblers – a term which stigmatises those suffering from this illness – with a further 85,000 young people estimated to be at risk of harm from gambling. How FinTechs can help reduce harms from gambling There is no perfect solution to help someone control their gambling. Blocks, self-exclusion schemes and other features can all be circumvented if gambling has become the most important activity in someone’s life and dominates their thinking, feelings, and behaviour. Nonetheless, the workshop highlighted a whole range of things that FinTechs are already doing as well as challenges still to be solved, such as joint accounts that give more control and protection. It also illustrated the invaluable contribution that experts-by-experience like Gambling Harm UK can bring to the table in terms of product ideation, design, and testing. Data-driven early intervention: Starling Bank described how it had a specialist team that proactively contacted loan customers to offer help where their underwriting team identified potential harm from gambling (or where they were in other potentially vulnerable situations), including links to external sources of support. It accepted that the message won’t always land well with customers but in its experience, there was more positive than negative feedback from customers. Saying the right things, in the right way is key, which Chris, Julie and Julie all confirmed was so important, means testing the language and training staff. Indicators of potentially harmful gambling might include applying for large loans late at night and multiple gambling transactions across several sites in a very short space of time. Enhanced friction and control features: At a time when it is quicker and easier than ever to set up a new bank account or take out a sizable loan, there is significant potential to give customers more control over their spending from the get-go. This might be a bank account where you have to opt-in to be able to gamble rather than opting out; or a non-gambling banking app with enhanced transaction monitoring. Through its personal financial management features, Moneyhub enables its users to set up spending flags across multiple accounts, making it easier for people to see what they are spending on different expenditure categories (such as gambling) where they may want to exercise more control and set spend limits. As Chris attested from his personal experience, tools to help people set up, and stick to, a budget can be an invaluable part of someone’s recovery from gambling addiction, ideally with a human element as well. Joint accounts: As an affected other, Julie highlighted the problems that resulted from having a joint account with her then-husband. He took her earnings and their savings from the joint account to gamble leaving her in dire financial straits, but Julie was unable to close the account without his permission. While joint accounts nowadays offer both parties easier visibility of the account data, for example via banking apps, in practice there may not be equal access or control if one partner is the victim of coercive control or financial abuse. Other research has highlighted the potential for a safer joint account using Open Banking payment initiation, but while the technology exists to build such a product, it is not yet available. Help to rebuild finances in recovery: John wanted to see financial services do more to support people with gambling problems to achieve sustainable recovery, by helping them rebuild their finances and their credit rating. Partly this is about raising awareness among FinTechs and other financial firms that gambling addiction is an impulse control disorder; and that people in recovery may be returning to a life they need help to cope with. In practical terms, it is about helping people build their finances so they can rebuild their lives, for example offering lower interest rates to people who have shown they can stick to a loan repayment schedule; allowing people to pay back debt over longer periods without penalising them; providing money management features such as ‘account sweeping’ to help repay debt or to start saving. Make gambling harms a normal thing to talk about: making it normal for us to talk about gambling harms and their potentially devastating impacts makes a lot of sense, given that millions of people in the UK are affected – not just the person who gambles but those around them as well. And taking the conversation to FinTechs and other financial services firms has the potential to stimulate even greater innovation for good. “Thank you so much for speaking to us in Bristol today. You really brought home how important it is for financial service providers to engage and to think bigger and better about how we can prevent and reduce harm and aid recovery. And for me most importantly, some immediately actionable insights which we can do something to address now in our own lending practices. Every step in the right direction, however, small, is very valuable in making change.” James Berry CEO, Great Western Credit Union. “Thank you for organising such a fascinating yet poignant discussion. Matthew Barr, John Dyer and I left energised planning how we at Moneyhub can do more to support those affected by gambling harm and how financial institutions can position themselves as a first line of defence to protect those who are vulnerable.” Jonathan Bell, Sales Director (Decisioning), Moneyhub. If you have been affected by any of the issues in this blog, you can contact the National Gambling Helpline which provides confidential advice, information and support by telephone and webchat free of charge. To find out more about the work of Gambling Harm UK, please contact John Gilham, CEO: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Lived Experience Advisor - Vacancies on Gambling Commission (Lived Experience Advisory Panel)
As Gambling Harm UK we believe the voice of lived experience is important in helping to inform those changes required to reduce gambling harm. We have been approached by the Gambling Commission to ask if we could assist them in bringing this opportunity to the awareness of those who may fulfil the criteria to undertake this role. The Gambling Commission are looking for people aged 18+ living in the UK, who have personal experience of gambling related harm to join their Lived Experience Advisory Panel. They currently have 8 – 10 vacancies available for these roles now that some of their members 4 year terms are coming to an end. If you would like to find out more about the role then please use the link below: Info (gamblingcommission.gov.uk)
- Looking to Make a Difference
Our purpose as Gambling Harm UK(GHUK) is the relief of those who are in need as a result of a gambling addiction or gambling-related harm and their families through: a. Improving and providing education towards matters relating to gambling harm and addictions by using an evidence-based public health approach, with a focus on discussions on recovery of those suffering harm; b. Improving the health of those suffering from gambling harm by promoting addiction recovery, the mitigation of harm, and preventing harm in the first place through the development and dissemination of insights, advice and support; c. By engaging with and/or conducting evidence-based research that helps to further understand gambling harm and addictions’. Last week we looked to help make a difference by attending a workshop that Sharon Collard, Research Director at the University of Bristol ‘s Personal Finance Research Centre had invited us to. We met with her, Stuart Harrison Director of FinTech West and with a number of other FinTech organisations. These organisations had responded to the opportunity to meet members of GHUK to learn more about gambling harm, and to discuss and consider how FinTech can help reduce harm from gambling in the UK. Financial technology (better known as fintech) is used to describe new technology that seeks to improve and automate the delivery and use of financial services. At its core, fintech is utilised to help companies, business owners, and consumers better manage their financial operations, processes, and lives. We discussed a range of topics around both opportunities for prevention and for supporting sustainable recovery of those who may have been harmed. The interest shown by those present and their commitment to helping reduce gambling harm was refreshing. Hearing the positive conversations between the different organisations on ways they may be able to help was inspiring. Following the event, several positive messages were sent to us from those who had attended. Two examples of these are shown below: James Berry CEO at Great Western Credit Union “Thank you so much for speaking to us in Bristol today. You really brought home how important it is for financial service providers to engage and to think bigger and better about how we can prevent and reduce harm and aid recovery. And for me most importantly, some immediately actionable insights which we can do something to address now in our own lending practices. Every step in the right direction, however, small, is very valuable in making change.” Jonathan Bell Sales Director (Decisioning) – Moneyhub “Thank you for organising such a fascinating yet poignant discussion. Matthew Barr, John Dyer and I left energised planning how we at Moneyhub can do more to support those affected by gambling harm and how financial institutions can position themselves as a first line of defence to protect those who are vulnerable.” We will continue trying to make a difference at Gambling Harm UK by engaging with organisations and others to help increase their awareness of gambling harm so that they can support us in achieving our purpose. Improvements don't happen overnight. But one step at a time, hopefully by engaging with organisations such as FinTech things will start to improve, and if financial institutions can position themselves as Jonathan Bell says as a first line of defence to protect those who are vulnerable, then harm may be prevented and sustainable recovery achieved.
- New First - Second New Training Programme Developed for Medical Students on Gambling Harm
Following the success of Gambling Harm UK's - Real Patient Simulated Based Medical Education (RPSMBE) Upskilling Programme developed in 2022, we have now developed a second new training programme for medical students. This programme was delivered to year one medical students at Imperial College on the 5th June 2023. The feedback on the new programme was excellent and we will be now looking to offer this programme to medical schools along with our RPSMBE programme. The new programme has been designed to achieve two learning objectives for the students: · The first is to help them achieve an understanding of gambling harm as a public health issue. · The second is to increase their understanding from a clinician’s perspective. A short summary of the evaluation feedback from those students who attended these new workshops, along with testimonials from Doctors Donovan and Thakerar who we worked with to plan the new programme are shown below: Dr Molly Donovan: The workshop by Gambling Harm UK for Imperial medical students was really impactful. It broke down the complexities of gambling harm and provided unique insight through lived experience which set it apart from conventional teaching methods. Students gained both practical skills to identify and address gambling harm, and a wider awareness of the need for a multi-faceted, population level approach in tackling the harm from gambling. I strongly believe that all medical students should have the opportunity to attend a workshop like this. Thank you, John and Ben! Dr Viral Thakerar: The session delivered by John and Ben for our medical students was a powerful call to action. The blend of neuroscience, data on harms from gambling including on affected others, film clips, lived experience and discussing what clinicians and wider society should do, seemed to resonate with our students. There were plenty of thought-provoking questions and responses throughout the session. SUMMARY FEEDBACK FROM STUDENTS At the end of each of the one hour and fifty-minute session, students were asked: Would you prefer more, less, or the same amount of learning on gambling harm at the Under Graduate level? Responses by group were as follows: Group 1: 27 attendees (17 responses submitted via Menti) Less More The Same 0 3 14 Group 2: 24 attendees (13 responses submitted via Menti) Less More The Same 0 1 12 In response to the question: What is your key takeaway message? Students responded as follows: Group 1: Gambling is a learned behaviour Gambling is very common The process of gambling is just as rewarding as winning the bet The harms of gambling and the way the industry uses tactics and marketing to get people into gambling Affects more deeply than previously thought There is a strong psychological & biological basis behind gambling Gambling can affect anyone, and may not show immediate signs Gambling can affect every aspect of life That gambling is an impulse and that although it may be due to neural circuits developed in the brain and life stressors, there's a huge degree of responsibility on gambling companies Gambling is more widespread and more harmful than it seems. Significance of MECC (Make Every Contact Count). Also ask about gambling when relevant in patient history taking There is no deliberate choice involved in gambling and the process is as rewarding as the satisfaction of winning. Gambling harm can manifest in several forms That gambling is a hidden addiction which needs to be treated with good support and empathy The gambling industry heavily encourages gambling much more than I originally thought Loss-chasing, crime, disguising losses as wins, bright imagery to camouflage bad habit The effects gambling can have on all aspects of someone’s life Gambling harm can have varying extents between individuals. Gambling harm can include financial, social, cultural legal. It’s a behavioural addiction increased by the industry but helped by charity, NHS There are various different methods the gambling industry uses to get people to gamble more Not enough awareness on gambling as a public health issue Not enough updated legislation on gambling after phones Not enough research on gambling Gambling can occur due to an array of different factors, not solely down to the idea of making money quickly Group 2: Gambling is a serious disorder Gambling disorder can affect not just the person suffering but the people around them Gambling can affect others as well as the gambler Gambling isn’t always a matter of being irresponsible Gambling is a disorder - not the persons fault Gambling can affect you and those around you The process of gambling is almost the same in the brain as winning. It's an uncontrollable impulse disorder that can affect anyone Gambling is not the gamblers’ fault and is more than just a lack of willpower Gambling harm affects mental health greatly The harm caused to the individual and affected others Gambling can affect anyone and is a much more prevalent problem than I previously thought Gambling is a health condition Important to not look at people gambling with prejudice but instead be open to help them especially as clinicians There are many reasons why someone may gamble It is not normally mentioned in consultations and hence should be asked about whilst taking a social history. Be aware of the many aspects gambling can affect in someone’s life Gambling has many serious repercussions for the person gambling and their relationships with people around them Gambling may likely need intervention When asked - What did you like most about the session? Students gave the following responses: Group 1: Interactive Interactive, liked the videos shown and thought the content was very engaging. Engaging, interesting topic, like the way it was delivered with videos Personal anecdotes Personal experience of facilitators Used personal experiences to make the point. The cases and videos I liked that personal stories were shared which showed us that gambling affects normal people too. Liked the video and the gamblers story Enthusiasm of the talkers It was very informative and comprehensive Very informative and personal story The organisation Group 2: Informative Very interactive and videos were helpful and engaging. It was really informative, as I had never given gambling much consideration before. The videos It was very informative and interactive. Very multifaceted, with multiple causes and effects explored Talking about the techniques Gambling companies use. Very enlightening session and highlighted the issues of stigma Information given aside real-life stories When asked - What did you dislike most about the session? – Key themes were Would have valued more opportunity to speak with facilitators during the session A little long and may have benefited from being broken down into more than one session or done during earlier in the day. Wish a greater proportion of the time could have been allocated to personal lived experience stories Maybe more of a group type discussion rather than lecture style Leaving Nothing - Nil Facilitator ratings given by students: Group 1: 14 Excellent, 3 Good Group 2: 11 Excellent, 2 Good.
- Julie - My life as an Affected Other Part 3 – Journey to a new future
Well, 25 years have passed, and in all that time, whether I knew it or not, I was living as an affected other through gambling harm and my husband's mental illness, which brought on his coercive and controlling behaviour. What is my life like now? It's not perfect. I am and will always be an affected other, but with help from the gambling harm community and teaching myself to look after me a lot more, I feel better and know there is a happy future ahead. I still miss my family life and having my husband, a partner, as, at times, it can be lonely dealing with everything by myself. Occasionally it is challenging, but you grow, and your resilience grows. I now have a fantastic job with Gambling Harm UK. It has been such an insightful few years. Sadly, this must change soon, but I've enjoyed every second of being able to give back, bring awareness, and teach others about what I've been through and how it feels to be me. I have hopefully helped both affected others and recovering gamblers to see their lives differently and to have hope for their futures and ultimately know that we can get through this. There is a way out and a light at the end of the tunnel. My work with Gambling Harm UK has been a key part of my journey to a new future. Over the last year my work has mainly been within schools. A project we have worked very hard on has now brought gambling harm awareness and the potential dangers of gambling to around 8000 young people aged 14 to 24, which is so important to me. One thing I strongly believe in is prevention, which is so much better than a cure. So the more young people we can talk to, the more we can bring awareness to, the better it is. The white paper “High Stakes” gambling reform for the digital age, was recently issued by the government. It was so anticipated and long waited that, unfortunately, I think for many of us, it was an anti-climax. Still, the gambling harm community must be proud of the work that everybody has done to lobby parliament and government about the people we have lost and the many living with gambling harm today. These people have gone through so much due to gambling harm that although the white paper did not make the changes we wanted, it brought inroads to where we wish to be. I've always thought we shouldn't rely purely on government and legislation change to make a difference. I think the real change will come from our voices, those with lived experience of what gambling harm means. People will begin to hear what we're saying, understand the real potential impact of this harm and realise that this addiction is a medical disorder which impacts people’s wellbeing both physically and mentally. Hopefully, this will enable those who can gamble safely within their financial limits to carry on doing so. And for those who are at potential risk of harm to be able to seek help faster than they ever did before and then potentially save themselves, their partners, and their families the upset and the sadness that can come from the gambling harm. The other work Gambling Harm UK has done, which I was privileged enough to be part of, was taking our Charity's real patient simulated-based medical education programme to Anglia Ruskin University School of Medicine and having a day with year three medical students going on to be GPs. I found this a fantastic and very emotional day. Getting feedback from these 23/24-year-old young people who are already on a long and challenging route towards their goals for their future that our stories were so helpful and would enable them to become better healthcare professionals was so amazing to hear. They all said they did not know how gambling harm could affect people so badly. So, our work with these students will make such a difference in the future to every person who walks into their GP surgeries and talks about the symptoms that they're having. These future new young GPs will now consider when they meet patients “is gambling harm occurring in their lives?”, and if so, they can get them the help they need and the support they're crying out for so much quicker because the stigma of gambling harm stops people from speaking out all too often. I am very proud of my new voluntary position with Healthwatch Essex which has resulted out of the work Gambling Harm UK is doing with them. I'm now an ambassador for their mental health and trauma programmes, which means I get to sit in and talk to others like me, with professionals from the NHS, and various people from county councils. We discuss the issues with the support network for people with mental health issues. We talk about trauma and how it affects people in their daily lives, and what support is needed and required for these people. I will attend events this year where we bring everybody together. Again, awareness is brought to the needs of many people in many different situations. So, I'm trying to say that being an affected other doesn't mean your life has to continue to be negative. If you work and try hard enough, you can turn things around and make it positive. I think that is probably the best thing I've done so far. That's what I've managed to do more than anything in these last 18 months. I felt safe and secure with the people that I've worked with. I've been happy that my children finally have the support and the network they need around them to survive what they have been through, the trauma and the pain they have seen. I am happier that I have learnt to understand myself a bit more. I am kinder to myself now; that is such a significant learning curve I needed to discover. What must you do now to help yourself as an affected other? It is essential to talk and share your feelings and questions. There are many charities and organisations online that you can get in contact with (see below for details). I found that exercise also helped me. A five-mile walk with my music playlist for company was always so helpful in clearing my mind. I am also an avid swimmer, so 50 lengths a few times a week meant an hour where I couldn't think about anything and enjoyed an empty mind. Have you thought about Mindfulness? An opportunity to release yourself from daily life. A few moments of inner peace and relaxation, breathing and allowing your stress or anxiety to leave you. It's a technique that's not easy to master but so well worth it when you can catch that five minutes of peace. Remember, you are so important. As an affected other, I am sure you will have your life consumed with others, their recovery, their worries, and their anxieties. But it would be best if you looked after yourself too. Never undervalue your worth, as you are priceless. Please find below our link to Life Changing Fund Raising opportunity, I would be very grateful if you would be so kind as to donate anything you can afford to help us to continue our work. https://www.gofundme.com/f/dzyc74-a-lifechanging-opportunity Other support organisations: https://gamfam.org.uk/ https://www.betknowmoreuk.org/ https://www.gamblingwithlives.org/ https://www.gamlearn.org.uk/
- My story as an affected other - Part 2
How have I been since November of 2021, when sadly, my husband took his own life in a gambling-related suicide? To be honest, I thought I'd already reached my lowest point. It was at this point I realised I hadn't. It was such an awful time for the children, me, my family, and my friends. It felt like I was living in a dream, a nightmare, a film. It has taken me months, if not longer, to come to terms with what happened, and when I say come to terms, it doesn't mean I still understand it. It doesn't mean I'm over it. It means I know a little more and understand why we lost him. I was working in a dementia care home on the evening my husband died. I was driving home when I received a call from my son to say his father was shouting and banging on the door. I remember the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, how scared I felt, and how much panic. I called the police and knew I'd get help but never realised his intentions or plans that night. I would have done anything to save him. I would have done anything to stop what happened, and the guilt I felt for months afterwards was awful. I now understand there was nothing more I could have done. He was at a point and a place where he had lost all control of reality. I'm so sorry that he didn't accept the help offered over the previous months. Again I had to seek help and counselling for myself and my children. At that point, I was working very hard in my 12-hour shift job with the care home and also part-time for Gambling Harm UK. I was fortunate to have the community around me, like-minded people who understood a bit more about gambling harm. Who helped me through my very darkest days. I think working kept me busy and my mind active. It was at night though I didn't sleep. I would lay awake just thinking about what I could have done to change the outcome. What could I do now to help my children? Where was my life going to go? Due to COVID, we had to wait a long time for the coroners inquiry. Hence, it was nearly the year's anniversary of my ex-husband's death. I relived the night again in court, which was a challenging and emotional experience. A year after his death, I began working full-time with Gambling Harm UK. Getting involved with awareness workshops, talking to others in the gambling harm community, and being brave enough to share my story with others. Collaborating with charities like Gambling with Lives has been great, taking us to Parliament to talk to MPs. Trying to make them listen and understand that the regulations' white paper needs to be published. I've even been on the radio now and had a few interviews, and although I get nervous, I'm proud I can bring awareness and talk about gambling harm and how it's affected my life. As I talk about my life and experiences, I hope to help remove the stigma of gambling harm by being honest and open about my emotions. I don't want anybody else to go through what I have been through. I don't want anybody else to feel the sadness, hurt and stress I have felt over the years. I hope by opening up. I can normalise discussing gambling harm and being an affected other, like the normalisation of gambling adverts on television, radio and in sports. We need to ensure that the Government, authorities, and gambling industry start to listen and, most importantly, assist charities to help reduce gambling harm to a much lower level than it is today. I think my mental health is the main thing or the most challenging thing about the last 15 months. How I've managed to keep going some days, I don't know. I've struggled so much that it has been hard to carry on. I am fortunate to have talked to professionals who immensely helped. I feel privileged and grateful to have worked with and known some fantastic colleagues who have helped me. It has been an uphill battle, a daily one, fighting myself, fighting my thoughts, and trying to adjust to what being an affected other means to me today and in the long term. As I've said before, I know things will get better. I see them getting better. What doesn't change is what happened. Always in my mind and heart, but I've got to learn to live with that. Use my positivity and work to ensure that my life and my children's lives move forward in a healthy, happy, positive way. In the next and final part of my story, I will share some more about how working for Gambling Harm UK has enabled me to start to re-build my life and give me some proud moments in what has often being challenging days. I will also share some of things I am doing on my journey to re-build my life. If you or anyone else you know is suffering from gambling harm, then please consider accessing the services that are available. Over recent years services have started to improve and more are available today to help those like me, the affected other. GamFam is a support service I use myself. They offer support through GRA5P – The GamFam Recovery and Support Programme. GRA5P is a structured 5-stage self-help peer support programme, which was designed to support those affected by someone else’s gambling. More recently and out of increasing demand they have also now developed a programme to support those in recovery too. I wish I could have accessed their service when I first needed help back all those years ago. You can find more details about all what they do at www.gamfam.org.uk Services for affected others are also available through GamAnon www.gamanon.org.uk and Gamcare at www.gamcare.org.uk