A very Happy New Year everybody and after a quick scan of social media I see many people are in a reflective mood; planning and sharing their aspirations for the year ahead.

A very Happy New Year everybody and after a quick scan of social media I see many people are in a reflective mood; planning and sharing their aspirations for the year ahead. Not wishing to follow others per se, but New Year is a time of reflection and an opportunity to recalibrate.

My personal journey of recovery remains strong as I enter my sixth-year, absent from gambling and still working hard to rebuild relationships; paying back for the terrible, dark places that my dependency took me. I have so much to be thankful for, but nothing more so than the trust others have placed in me as Founder & Chief Executive of YGAM.

January is going to be a super exciting month for the YGAM family in more ways than one. Firstly, we will be publishing our 2017/18 Annual Review and Accounts and our progress remains strong. As a small prelude, we have managed to secure £751,783 (£292,101 in 2016/17 and £116,042 in 2015/16) income for the charity. This has enabled us to work with 350 educational organisations (348 in 2016/17 and 60 in 2015/16). With this investment, we were able to train colleagues working directly with young or vulnerable people at each organisation with the primary focus on how to embed our preventative education programme directly into their work. In addition, we have continued to deliver our three university peer education projects (one in 2016/17 and nil in 2015/16), employing six psychology students in part-time Living Wage jobs during the year. Our reach for 2017/18 had almost doubled to 55,954 (28,648 in 2016/17) young people, students, teachers and practitioners. We have also been able to secure £74,104 (£91,000 in 2016/17 and £87,000 in 2015/16) of pro-bono advice, evaluation, training venues and facilities hire through our corporate partnerships and network of employee skilled-volunteers.

Next, we are welcoming new additions to the YGAM family in January. Three new full-time Education Managers; a full-time Head of Marketing & Communications, and a full-time Corporate Development Manager. In addition, we have four new volunteer trustees joining our now well-established charity board. Finally, our trading subsidiary is going to take flight in 2019 as we welcome a new permanent Chair and five volunteer Non-Executive Directors. All these new appointments are people at the top of their game and do look out for a blog towards the end of January when we formally introduce everybody. Between YGAM and our trading subsidiary we have thirty-seven people who are heavily involved and supporting us to deliver our social purpose. However, new appointments to YGAM do not stop there; we will be welcoming several new university students to YGAM in living-wage part-time roles to deliver our Peer Education and we are going to kick-start the recruitment for members of our Student & Young People and Problem Gamblers & Affected Others advisory groups. These appointments will boost the YGAM family to over fifty people.

January will see the publication of our new three-year strategic plan. This plan which will complement the emerging content of the Safer Gambling Strategy for the United Kingdom and will set out how we intend to significantly scale our geographical reach; achieve further social impact and demonstrate our evidence-based approach to achieving our social purpose while maintaining the quality of impactful delivery across multiply regions.

Finally, towards the end of January we will be sharing the progress made by our trading subsidiary, making a start on the apprenticeship piece of work with the gambling industry and launching new products at ICE 2019, taking place at the ExCel Centre in London between 5 to 7 February. YGAM are fortunate to be the official charity partner to this global event for the second year running.

Amazing progress so far and I haven’t even talked about what is happening beyond January…….. Many of you who read my blogs are already huge supporters of our work and I am immensely proud and grateful to work with many of you directly. If you have attended a YGAM Practitioner workshop; are a university supporter; gambling or gaming industry supporter or are in some way supporting or are connected to our social purpose, my New Year wish is that we do even more together this year. We have an exemplar team in place, four-years proven track record and some impactful partnerships. 2019 is the year for all interested parties to unite behind the new Safer Gambling Strategy for the United Kingdom and in the case of YGAM, collaboratively deliver an impactful national education programme for young and vulnerable people.

Lee Willows
January 2019