Dr Jane Rigbye: We maximise our impact when we work together

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London, 21 October 2022: Those involved in gambling harms prevention in Britain will no doubt have seen that this week has been “Safer Gambling Week”. Now in its 5th year, this annual campaign led by the gambling industry aims to get more people talking about the issue of gambling harms and the range of support tools and services that are available. YGAM firmly believes that the aims and objectives of Safer Gambling Week should be at the heart of everything the industry does every day of every week, all year round. However, the awareness that is generated on a national level during the campaign is vitally important.

Despite concerted efforts to raise awareness and open the conversation in recent years, the harms related to disordered gambling still carry stigma. It’s clear that as a society we no longer hesitate to talk about the risks associated with other behaviours such as consuming alcohol, tobacco, or drugs. We believe this should be the same for the risks associated with gambling. By increasing understanding and educating people of all ages, we can break down these barriers and ensure gambling harm receives the attention it requires.

Safer Gambling Week repeatedly attracts a degree of debate and challenge. Whilst there will always be different perspectives, protecting people must always be the priority for all stakeholders in this sector. The UK is fortunate to have a multitude of inspiring charities and organisations doing fantastic work to prevent and reduce gambling harms. Many of these organisations have been founded and continue to be inspired by lived experience. We all share a common goal, and we maximise our impact when we share best practice, experience, and insight. The passion that people hold to make a difference in this space should be celebrated. Collaboration forms a core part of our approach at YGAM, and we have enhanced our work by listening and learning from our colleagues from across the harm prevention sector.

At YGAM, we focus on using education as a powerful tool to safeguard young people and prevent harm. Just like another other week of the year, this past week has been a busy one for the YGAM team who have delivered our evidence-based training to a wide range of groups including teachers, youth workers, health professionals, parents, mental health specialists, community leaders and university staff. In particular, the conversations we facilitate in schools – formal and informal, in lessons, assemblies and on the playground – can help inform young people about the risks of gambling.

However, we do more than facilitate preventative education for young people. Our Safer Gambling Training programme is one of many effective initiatives born from partnership within the third sector. We’re working with Betknowmore UK to develop and deliver high-quality training for employees working in the global gambling industry. Together we have combined our comprehensive knowledge, lived experience insight, professional experience, and best practice. Our six training programmes equip customer-facing employees with an increased understanding of gambling harms, presented through the powerful lens of lived experience. The content of our training for operators has been informed by the latest research and is aligned and updated according to the latest regulations. Recently nominated for numerous awards, the suite of training programmes is raising standards in player protection by upskilling staff who have a responsibility to make effective interventions to prevent and reduce gambling harms.

The industry can benefit from the abundance of expertise, insight, and experience in the third sector. Lived experience is at the heart of our training content for operators. We often find that our training is the first-time delegates have ever listened to someone’s very personal experiences with gambling harms. It is powerful and impactful. Where it is being utilised appropriately, lived experience is making a positive contribution to the improvements being made across the sector.

I’m proud of the work YGAM is doing this week and every other week. I’m also proud of the contribution that YGAM makes to this sector. We’re a small piece of a much larger jigsaw. More needs to be done to reduce gambling harms and a collaborative approach is the most efficient way to achieve this. This includes commitments from Government, regulators, operators, charities, trade bodies, academics, and all those working tirelessly to prevent gambling harms. Alone we can do a little; together we can do so much.

Dr Jane Rigbye, YGAM Chief Executive, writes during Safer Gambling Week 2022.

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