Sam Starsmore is the latest addition to the YGAM team having joined last month as our National Education Manager. His passion for safeguarding young people stems from his personal struggles with gambling and has been reflecting on his new start.

This time last month I was saying farewells to my colleagues within the Insurance Industry who I had worked with for just short of 11 years. It was a very strange and surreal period of time with a lot of emotions running through my mind. Fast forward to today & I am now somewhat embedded within my post of National Education Manager at this brilliant charity, YGAM.

It’s well known that I myself have experienced troubles with gambling in the past. One of the major reasons behind my passion for joining YGAM was to ensure that my experience could go some way in preventing young people going through the same or similar experiences that I did. I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many new faces within the ever-growing YGAM family who have all been extremely welcoming, supportive & helpful. Prior to me joining, I’d seen several testimonials around why and how this is a great place to work which I can absolutely validate from my personal experience over the last 4 weeks.

“We are practical, committed to the doing of something useful rather than theory or ideas.” This is one of our key values at YGAM and it resonates with me so much in the sense that we must work tirelessly to educate & inform practitioners who work with young people in order to safeguard them against the potential harms of gambling & gaming.

The scope of my role is quite broad, but my immediate priority is to understand how we can work with NCS & Sporting delivery partners. The NCS programme has been affected due to Covid-19 but we’re working hard to ensure we are on the front foot come Autumn and Spring 2021.

As a result of Covid-19, and our inability to deliver our face to face workshops, I’ve seen an incredibly agile approach where we are now driving our practitioners to online sessions. This has been a huge success for us, and we’ve seen some fantastic feedback from attendees.

Something else I’m very passionate about is removing any stigma associated with gambling addiction & I had the opportunity to address this two weeks ago in an TV interview with ITV News. I believe it is vital to raise awareness around not only where the addiction can take you, but what life can be like if it is addressed. I will work tirelessly to do more to overcome the stigma and I am grateful to now be in a positions to be given a platform.

Starting a brand-new career can be daunting, and it was, but the support I’ve had from people both inside and outside of YGAM has made the transition seamless & a decision I’m positive was one I won’t regret. What next? Lots of hard work to ensure that our social mission is carried out to those who work with young people to reduce the harms related to gaming & gambling. I am more determined than ever to use my negative experiences with gambling to make a positive difference to lives of young people.

Sam Starsmore
National Education Manager, YGAM