James Attrill, the High Sheriff of the Isle of Wight, has welcomed the Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM) to the island, saying “there is a real need for their services to support our young people,” and has encouraged teachers and youth organisations to take advantage of the free training available.

YGAM is an award-winning national charity with a social purpose to inform, educate, safeguard against gambling and gaming harms. As part of the ‘Young Peoples Gambling Harm Prevention Programme’, the charity deliver free training on the topic to teachers, youth workers, universities, parents and practitioners.  After successfully rolling out the programme in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the charity is now expanding to the Isle of White.

During successive lockdowns, young people have been gaming more, and screen time has increased. For many gaming has become a valuable way to keep in touch with friends and stay entertained however more parents are becoming concerned about the amount of time their children are now spending gaming.  YGAM has seen a significant increase in demand for their educational resources and they are keen to promote their free resources across the island.

James Attrill, the High Sheriff of the Isle of Wight, said: “I have personally been briefed on the plans YGAM has for the Isle of Wight and I believe there is a real need for their services to support our young people – especially if it impacts on their mental health. Whilst schools have been closed during the lockdown, the amount of time young people have been spending online has increased significantly meaning this work has never been more important.”

He continued: “It is important to make sure that collectively we are doing everything we can to ensure future generations of the Isle of Wight are safeguarded, where necessary, from the potential negative aspects of gaming and gambling. I encourage anyone who works with young people on the Island to liaise with Katherine and the YGAM team to help get the message to as many young people as possible”.

Carol Yearby is a Lead Youth Worker for Breakout Youth and Space4U on the Isle of Wight. After attending a recent training session with YGAM, Carol said: “Coming from a youth work basis, I found this training around young people and the gambling/gaming arena to be not only insightful but really relevant to our young people today.”

She continued: “I feel more prepared to be able to deliver sessions on awareness of gambling and gaming in the youth sector and how to identify trouble before it gets out of control.  The resources shared are absolutely brilliant.  If you’re wavering about doing the training – don’t, you will not regret it.”

The charity is particularly eager to work on the Isle of Wight after research (from the Island Youth Mental Health Census 2019) suggested that its young people may be particularly vulnerable to anxiety and depression, which is often associated with harmful gambling or gaming behaviours. It’s believed that the stress from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has likely heightened this vulnerability, making it even more important for positive interventions to take place.

Katherine Sawyer, YGAM’s Education Manager for the South West, said: “It is fantastic to have the support of James who is so keen to tackle the mental health issues of young people on the island. I recognise that the island faces many unique challenges around this topic both geographically in terms of rural isolation and socio-economically.

“Therefore, my aim is to work with as many education and youth practitioners as possible, to make sure that, collectively, we are doing everything we can to educate and safeguard young people from the potential consequences of gaming and gambling.”

Figures released by YGAM show that the education charity trained 2,906 practitioners in 2020. With this training, those practitioners reached an impressive 184,700 young people to provide vital educational sessions on the harms associated with gambling and gaming.

Earlier this year, YGAM won the PSHE Education Award at the Children & Young People Now Awards. The PSHE Education Award honours organisations that ‘provide outstanding resources to educators for PSHE education, delivering materials and lesson plans that align cohesively with current national curriculum requirements.

YGAM’s free training can be booked by emailing, training@ygam.org or visiting www.ygam.org to learn more. YGAM also offers resources specifically for parents (www.parents.ygam.org) and students (www.students.ygam.org).