As the UK and much of Europe start to come out of lockdown, its time to reflect on how much things have changed in YGAM and what the remainder of the year has install for our charity. Given the strength of the foundations at YGAM, we have been able to approach lockdown in a positive manner without any periods of major instability. That has not made us complacent but has afforded us the opportunity to relentlessly focus on our digital transformation strategy; long-term fundraising; laying the foundations to our trading subsidiary; launching our new ‘Parent Hub’ website and welcoming new members to the YGAM family who will drive, lead and shape the national education programme.

As a charity that has operated remotely for over five years now, we are all used to working from home, but that has not stopped us putting in additional measures to keep all the team engaged across the UK and preserve the YGAM authenticity. With our employees now organised into regional or functional teams, it really does feel like we are in the ‘scaling phase’ of our journey. That alongside an inspirational and highly impactful leadership team, YGAM does have a different feel now. My role will change further over the summer as we complete the recruitment for a couple of additional leadership posts, and I will be able to focus a little more on the ‘thinking’ as appose to the ‘doing’. It also feels different as our turnover surpassed £1m in 2019, which brings the full weight of an independent financial audit, necessary for registered charities who reach this level of income as stipulated by the Charity Commission. YGAM received a very positive and unqualified independent audit.

In partnership with GamCare, YGAM has been entrusted by the Betting & Gaming Council and its members to deliver the England, Wales, and Northern Ireland’s first nationally co-ordinated preventative education programme. For YGAM this enables us to scale our reach to all geographical regions, have a dedicated Education Manager in each region and an NCS (National Citizenship Service) and Professional Sports Education Manager. Our closer collaboration with GamCare will allow for timely referrals to age appropriate treatment and a great opportunity to share learning and insight from our respective prevention approaches. Indeed, for over a year now we have been working alongside GamCare and Fast Forward (who lead preventative education in Scotland) to share insight and develop an evidenced-based framework for the delivery of ‘best practice’ preventative education. This is currently being peer-reviewed and we intend to publish in the summer. This will sit alongside the PSHE Guidance published in December 2019, supported by GambleAware.

Like many charities, our digital transformation was accelerated by Covid-19 and delivered by our superb Operations Director and the Regional Heads of Education Delivery. The YGAM Practitioner Workshops have been ordinarily delivered face-to-face, but now we have a blended digital offering that is proving incredibly popular with teachers and other professionals. During the period of lockdown our education team have trained over 300 practitioners, which compares favourably to the 200 practitioners we had planned to train face-to-face. Our education team are building up to deliver three blended digital Practitioner Workshops a week and once all the new education team are trained, I can easily see that extending out to at least five workshops a week as a minimum. In addition, the education team have created, piloted and tested new digital resources aimed at Primary and Secondary Teachers and Youth Work Professionals. The YGAM education programme can be genuinely tailored to the different age groups and abilities of young people and are now ideal for home / one-to-one learning as well as group learning.

This digital transformation does not stop at our Practitioner Workshops, building upon the work with P.A.R.E.N.T, we have developed YGAM for parents which comprises of a dedicated ‘Parent Hub’ microsite which is resource rich in content to take the conversation around digital resilience, safer gaming & gambling in to every home across the UK. We have employed a dedicated Head of Parental Engagement and through the summer we will see this piece of work extended further by additional video content, podcasts, and social media campaigns. We are also going to launch our first independent evaluation of this programme’s resources and parents’ feedback.

The YGAM University & Student engagement programme is progressing at pace and with most universities planning for a digital campus in September, so too is YGAM. A new student microsite is being developed, aimed at students to help them build their resilience, financial capability and well-being whilst reducing gambling and gaming-related harm. Our Head of University & Student Engagement is also going to commission an independent evaluation of this programme and further research into how gambling and gaming may affect student life, building upon our research last year.

YGAM is now on the Gambling Commission list of approved organisations whom operators can donate their RET funding for both prevention and research.

Since YGAMs inception, independent evaluation, scrutiny, and quality-assurance has been strategically critical to us; allowing us to build insight, understand what works around prevention and share this learning with external partners. 2020 is no exception as we have published our Practitioner Workshop impact evaluation study and we intend to start the journey to achieve NCVO Trusted Charity; ISO 9001 and Mind Quality Marks. Additionally, we have our City & Guilds and Pearson Assured annual assessments and we are working towards our Investors in People re-assessment. Finally building upon the GambleAware Commissioned study; ‘Gambling: the Young BAME Perspective’; we are working with the report authors, Clearview Research to (i) evaluate our resources and (ii) develop some specific resources aimed at practitioners who work with young and vulnerable young people from BAME communities in what is a highly specialist piece of work given the cultural sensitivities around gambling & gaming.

In collaboration with Betknowmore UK, the Responsible Gambling Council (RGC), we are creating eight blended learning modules on a dedicated safer gambling microsite for operators. Using NeuroScience, the AGES Model of Learning and delivered via a gamification platform it is our intention to bring authentic training to the gambling sector specifically looking at customer vulnerabilities, protecting customers and safeguarding customers through the lens of Lived experience, certified by City & Guilds.

Finally, we have other programmes we are about to commence in July with partners which will specifically be framed around training Mental Health Practitioners and those who work within the NHS. I could not be prouder of the YGAM team, who have embraced lockdown in such a positive and impactful manner, driving our social purpose forward, whilst balancing home schooling and looking after loved ones at home. Our charity trustees and YGAM Innovation non-executive directors, whom all give their time voluntary have continued their steadfast support of our charity and trading subsidiary.

We know it has been an incredibly tough time for many of our supporters and we thank you for your continuing support, commitment, and dedication. We remain humbled by our progress and eager to continue to learn and share insight. This is a responsibility we take very seriously in YGAM and if you share this sentiment and want to work collaboratively to generate change, we do have some career opportunities opening up in the coming few weeks that I would encourage you to keep an eye on our website.  

Lee Willows
Founder & Chief Executive