2020! What a delight you have been; I mean that both ironically and sincerely. We draw a close on a year that’s brought so many personal challenges and difficulties to us all. Resilience, compassion and camaraderie have been key to our success here at YGAM and I wanted to take pause and reflect on our achievements; whilst also looking at ways to inform future practise as we take the plunge in to 2021 with our core values and social purpose firmly in place. How will we develop and how will we continue to inform, educate and safeguard young and vulnerable people?

2020 has in many ways been a breakthrough year for YGAM, with Education now taking place in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. We have The Mindful Resilience project set to launch early next year to help better educate healthcare practitioners, a parental engagement programme making strides month on month to aide parents’ understanding of gaming and gambling and a fantastic network of University students flying the YGAM flag on (virtual) campus. Aided by dedicated and passionate individuals it’s clear to see the key drivers behind our success this year.

We’ve developed resource to ensure Quality and standardisation across all functions and QMS is firmly implanted on everyone’s brains. Our MarCom’s have been expertly led and a highlight of the year was the Queens Park Rangers & Nottingham Forrest shirt sponsorship was a fantastic occasion reaching young people up and down the country. Our first ever YGAM Charity ambassador, Marvin Sordell, was announced last week and I cannot wait to work with him. Our newly launched, Safer Gambling Operator Training, in collaboration with the brilliant team at Betknowmore, is also a fantastic initiative to help drive harm prevention. These are just some examples of how we are growing as a charity, but I want to spend some time focussing on what is happening on the front line. We’re all here because we believe in the social purpose of YGAM: Inform, Educate and Safeguard young people. The reason I get out of bed in a morning is to ensure that together we achieve that purpose.

Through the National Citizen Service (NCS) programme, we have had the privilege of delivering directly to young people aged between 16 and 18 years old. This is a critical age for young people as either University or full-time employment are within touching distance. Therefore, equipping them with the knowledge around the potential harms of gaming & gambling is imperative.

We’ve worked really closely with some fantastic NCS delivery partners during the Autumn Programme including AFC Bournemouth Community Sports Trust, AFC Rochdale Community Trust, Catch 22, Queens Park Rangers Community Trust and Yorkshire Cricket Club Foundation. Of the 93 young people we worked with together with our supporting organisations:

As 2021 arrives, we will continue to grow and learn. We will ensure our delivery partner network continues to develop, so we can ensure collectively we safeguard children and young people from future harms.

On a personal note, Christmas was once a time of deep misery and trauma due to my thoughts, emotions and actions being consumed by an addiction that I can fortunately say is now arrested. Thanks to the support of a close network and the continuous trust and faith that YGAM put in me, Christmas will be just how I want it, normal! (Coronavirus Terms & Conditions apply).

I wish you all a Happy Christmas with your loved ones.