Our Chair & Chief Executive reflect on 2019 and set out our priorities for 2020

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A rather belated Happy New Year everybody from the Chair of YGAM, Mike Wojcik and Chief Executive, Lee Willows. The break over Christmas and New Year provides a great opportunity to reflect on the impact our charity has achieved in 2019 by working in collaboration and reaffirms our resolve to deliver our ambitious strategic priorities for 2020. 

Our Chief Executive’s personal journey of recovery remains strong as he enters his seventh-year, absent from gambling. Lee continues to work hard to rebuild relationships; paying back for the terrible, dark places that his dependency took him. Lee, along with our two other founding Patrons, Anne & Keith Evans continue to dedicate so much to our social cause and the wider safer gambling arena. 

Reflecting on 2019

Last year very much was a year of transition for the charity and an opportunity to further strengthen our foundations as we begin to further understand our impact and scale as we move to a population wide education programme. YGAM changed its financial year in 2019 to bring it in line with the calendar year, securing almost £1m (£749,238 in 2017/18; £292,101 in 2016/17 and £116,042 in 2015/16) income. This investment has enabled YGAM to work with 1,998 educational organisations (350 in 2017/18; 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 scale our university & student engagement projects, partnering with nine universities in 2019 (three universities in 2016/17 and one university in 2015/16), employing nine students in purposeful part-time Living Wage jobs during the year. Our reach for 2019 has increased to approximately 280,000 young people, students and practitioners; a step-up from 55,954 in 2017/18 and 28,648 in 2016/17. We have also been able to secure £243,572 (£74,104 in 2017/18; £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 skilled volunteers.

Since YGAM’s inception we have had a relentless focus on evaluation and securing external accreditations for our work. As you can imagine this gives an opportunity for continual external insight into what we deliver with the sole aim of continues development. 2019 was no different, as well as being recognied for the second year running as a Pearson Assured education provider, we also gained the prestigious City & Guilds Assured quality mark and became a formal City & Guilds approved centre. In the Summer of 2019, we commissioned the National Council for Voluntary Organisations Charities Evaluation Services (NCVO CES) to undertake a further external evaluation looking at the impact of our work on practitioners and young people directly, building on our City, University of London academic evaluation two-years ago. NCVO CES is the leading evaluation consultancy for the voluntary sector. In over 27 years, NCVO CES have worked with tens of thousands of voluntary organisations and funders, helping them improve their effectiveness through evaluation, theory of change and strategy support. NCVO CES consider evidence-based evaluation, a coherent strategy and sustainable resources to be essential components in helping organisations fulfil their mission. The full impact report will be published in March 2020 along with our updated Theory of Change, which, for the first time will show our actual impact (as appose to our intended impact) on both the practitioners / partner organisations who we work with and the impact of our programme on young people themselves.  

In the Summer of 2019 we commissioned Red Brick Research, an innovative and growing market research consultancy on a mission to inspire smarter, faster and better decision making to undertake an extensive piece of research in to the attitudes, thinking and behaviours of 2,000 students and their gambling / gaming habits. This research was presented at the Red Brick annual Student Global Healthy Living Conference and the insight further helped to strengthen our engagement with students. 

Other highlights in 2019 include a revamped website; comprehensive review of all our education resources; strategic work with GamCare, Fast Forward and GambleAware to look at how education might be co-ordinated in the United Kingdom and the development of a quality framework. Our charity also undertook a formal review with all trustees to gauge their personal input and we welcomed Paul Bellringer OBE, founder of GamCare to become our latest Patron. We also partnered with Queen Mary, University of London and several other charities including Mind, Scouts, WaterAid, Action for Children and the Samaritans to deliver the Third Sectors first Social Change Degree Apprenticeship. 

Finally, in December 2019, following a successful application to the Gambling Commission, YGAM became one of the listed organisations to which gambling operators may direct their annual financial contribution for gambling research, prevention and treatment.

Strategic priorities 2020

Looking forward to 2020, it is YGAM’s sixth anniversary and we feel that is well-worth celebrating. We have an exemplar team of 26 employees which is due to increase to 42 employees in Q1. Working in collaboration with members of the Betting & Gaming Council and GamCare, together we are going to deliver a high-population, national education programme that will see us jointly deliver four key aspirations:

Young People’s Awareness 

All 11-19 year-olds in Britain (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) receive at least one session of gambling awareness education during their secondary/further education over the next four years. 

The Youth Professional Workforce 

All teachers, youth workers and other professionals working with young people have access to information about the risks of gambling, how to identify gambling related harm in young people and where help for young people can be sought.  

Parents and Families 

All parents and families have access to information about young people’s gambling, how to keep young people safe, and where they can be referred for help and support. 

Age Appropriate Treatment 

All young people (aged 18 and under) who are ‘at risk’ of or have developed a problem with gambling, or are affected by the problem gambling of someone close to them (e.g. a parent), have access to age-appropriate treatment.

Our Parent and Families work will be enhanced with support from Lottoland, whom we worked with last year to develop a pilot with the support of Playtech. We will work with GVC and Ascot to further develop our university & student engagement work and we are particularly keen to talk to other operators to understand if there might be appetite to work with YGAM to enable us to extend this work further.

In total, YGAM will work with at least 3,000 educational organisations to deliver our practitioner workshops, which will reach approximately 600,000 young and vulnerable people in 2020. We are keen to extend the reach of our university & student engagement programme to reach 25 universities, reaching approximately 175,000 students and our parents work will aim to reach a minimum of 5,000 parents in 2020. 

Our focus on evaluation and external accreditations will continue in 2020 as we aim to:

  • Ensure we remain an ASDAN Customised Accreditation Centre for the third year running in Q1.
  • Work with NCVO CES to commission further, wider reach impact evaluation for our practitioner workshops in Q1.
  • Ensure we remain a Pearson Assured provider for the third year running in Q2.
  • Commission our first evaluation for our university & student engagement work in Q2. 
  • Re-accreditation for Investors in People Accreditation / Silver Standard in Q3.
  • Ensure we remain a City & Guilds Assured provider for the second year running in Q3.
  • Commence ISO 9001 Quality Management Standard in Q3 to achieve in early 2021.
  • Commission our first Return On Investment (ROI) study in Q4 which will report early in 2021.

YGAM has never sought to influence the way that gambling is regulated in Great Britain; we believe that is a function of the regulator, the UK Gambling Commission. YGAM is an education charity with purposeful charitable objects which are wholeheartedly focused around the delivery of education services. YGAM are however grateful to opportunities that have been afforded to us to share our progress at industry events and conferences such as KPMG eSummits, Casino Beats, SiGMA, ICE London, KnowNow, World Regulatory Briefing, WGES, APPG Betting & Gaming, APPG Gambling-Related Harms, National Audit Office, EGR, Responsible Gambling Week and Gambling Compliance Regulatory Awards to name but a few. This area of work remains a key strategic aim in 2020. We are devoting more time this year to our work with Parliamentarians and members of the Lords to illustrate the importance of collaboration and our impact around building digital resilience among young people. We also updated our Articles of Association and changed our legal name to Young Gamers & Gamblers Education Trust (although we still trade and are known as YGAM) in the summer of 2019. This was undertaken given given our desire to work in collaboration with the (un-regulated) gaming sector this year following our Gaming Insight Parliamentary Symposium in October 2019. We hope to learn more and share insight with this sector, forming purposeful collaborative partnerships looking more broadly at young & vulnerable people, mental health and digital resilience.  

Finally, YGAM’s trading subsidiary YGAM Innovation will continue to provide best-in-class, City & Guilds certified training to customer facing colleagues in the gambling industry and related sectors in collaboration with Betknowmore UK. In 2019 we were fortunate to work with William Hill, Lottoland, Playtech, Bet Victor, GiG and National Betting Authority to name a few. We will continue to build up the capacity of YGAM Innovation in 2020 hand-in-glove with Betknowmore UK; digitalise our education resources, build a base of permanent employees to fully realise the appetite from the sector for quality-assured training, through the eyes of Lived Experience.  

None of our work would not be possible without the strong team of employees, volunteers, trustees (all who donate their time), Patrons and corporate supporters. We are immensely grateful for your steadfast support and commitment to our social purpose. 2020 will be a very special sixth anniversary year and we are delighted that you are all keen to remain on the journey with us. 

Mike Wojcik – Chair Lee Willows – Chief Executive

Young Gamers & Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM)

January 2020

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