Young People’s Gambling Harm Prevention Programme exceeds first-year targets despite COVID-19 impact

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Leading charities YGAM and GamCare have surpassed the first-year targets for their joint Young People’s Gambling Harm Prevention Programme, despite significant challenges imposed by the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

Supported by the Betting and Gaming Council, the four-year national programme is the largest of its kind and aims to deliver evidence-led education, training and support to young people across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as collaborating with other organisations supporting young people across Scotland.

Figures released by YGAM show that the education charity trained 2,906 practitioners in 2020 (up from its original target of 2,592). With this training, those practitioners have reached an impressive 184,700 young people to provide vital educational sessions on the harms associated with gambling and gaming (up from a target of 170,300).

In addition, GamCare have trained 4,185 professionals who work with young people and delivered educational workshops directly to 3,947 young people. With just over two months left of their first year of delivery, GamCare has already exceeded training targets by almost 3,000 people to date.

GamCare has also set up the first national young people’s support service, offering information, advice and support tailored specifically to the needs of young people impacted by their own gambling or that of a loved one. Young people are now able to access this service online or over the phone, with support available around the clock.

The Young People’s Gambling Harm Prevention Programme has been established in all regions of England and Wales, as well as expanding education and support services for young people to Northern Ireland for the first time. Both YGAM and GamCare work closely with other agencies providing education in Scotland.

In response to the tests of a global pandemic, both YGAM and GamCare accelerated the digital transformation of their resources to enable them to deliver their workshops online throughout successive lockdowns. These resources continue to be available to anyone that works with young people, including teachers and youth workers. GamCare has also developed an eLearning resource for young people, which can be made available as part of blended learning packages. YGAM launched a new ‘Parent Hub’ website providing families with free resources, information and activities to help safeguard children from gambling and gaming-related harms.

YGAM Founder and Chief Executive Lee Willows said: “I am extremely proud of the enormous success we have already seen from the programme. As 2020 unfolded, we saw the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as an invitation to develop YGAM’s digital capacity in all areas of our work. Although this was done as a response to the crisis, the effect has been significantly advantageous for our education programme.

The programme is reaching more communities in more regions and this fantastic progress will continue in the following years.”

“Now that the delivery is entirely digital, we have removed enormous barriers which may have prevented some individuals and organisations from taking part. The programme is reaching more communities in more regions and this fantastic progress will continue in the following years.”

Anna Hemmings, Chief Executive of GamCare said: “Both GamCare and YGAM believe passionately that education on the risks associated with gambling and gaming is an essential part of tackling harms for young people and increasing their digital resilience overall.

“I am particularly proud of the team considering the circumstances in which this has been achieved. The pandemic has proved a huge challenge, yet our teams have continued to deliver great engagement with professionals and young people. We’ve also developed a dedicated support service tailored to the needs of young people.”

“For any young person worried about gambling, the service is free, flexible and confidential, and will ensure that each young person receives the most appropriate support for them.”

We’ve had overwhelming support from those we’ve trained

Linda Scollins- Smith, Head of the National Education Programme for YGAM, said: “We are delighted with the progress over the last year. Our success is testament to the excellent team – most of whom began during lockdown – and the relationships we have with our partner schools and organisations.

“We were able to adapt quickly to move our offer online, ensuring we provide teachers and professionals with the tools to inform, educate and safeguard young people in relation to gaming and gambling and the potential risks. We’ve had overwhelming support from those we’ve trained and we will be working together to ensure children and young people have the support and information needed.”

The Young People’s Gambling Harm Prevention Programme is fully assured and evidence-led, with YGAM and GamCare committed to continual evaluation to ensure that it is providing the most up-to-date and valuable information possible to practitioners.

YGAM has recently been shortlisted for an award in the PSHE Education category at the Children & Young People Now Awards 2020 for it’s role in the delivery of the programme.

By 2024, YGAM and GamCare aim to work with a minimum of 13,492 practitioners and partner organisations, resulting in millions of young people aged 11-19 receiving at least one awareness session during their secondary/further education.

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