Young People’s Gambling Harm Prevention Programme expands to Northern Ireland

Leading charities GamCare and the Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM) are working together to bring an education and support programme to Northern Ireland, with the mission of safeguarding future generations from gambling and gaming-related harms.

The Young People’s Gambling Harm Prevention Programme is a ground-breaking initiative supported by members of the Betting and Gaming Council and has already been rolled out across England and Wales. Both charities deliver evidence-led workshops and resources to teachers, youth workers and directly to young people to help raise awareness of the issues and help prevent harm.

Youth Work Alliance, a charity based in Belfast, is working with YGAM to deliver evidence-led and evaluated training to teachers and youth workers, in addition to giving them access to City & Guilds assured training and education resources which provide a full curriculum of lesson plans for primary and secondary age children as well as youth work specific resources.

The move has been welcomed by prominent politician Robbie Butler MLA who is the Chair of the All Party Group on Reducing Harm Related to Gambling in Stormont. Mr Butler has campaigned for new laws to help protect people from gambling related harms. He said: “I welcome this initiative from Youth Work Alliance. When the APG launched our inquiry into how new legislation can reduce gambling related harms, we made it clear that prevention is better than cure. The stronger gambling laws we are hoping for in Northern Ireland need to be backed up by better education to stop harm before it occurs. So therefore, it is hugely encouraging to see the Youth Work Alliance working with YGAM and GamCare to educate and support our young people.”

Stephen Dallas, CEO of Youth Work Alliance said: “The work we are doing with YGAM, working alongside GamCare, delivering their training and resources on the ground here in Belfast and across Northern Ireland is going to be a huge benefit to our local communities. Gambling-related harms have been presented as a hidden issue in Northern Ireland for many years, which makes it even more vital for us to ensure children and vulnerable people are informed, educated and safeguarded against the potential harms associated with gambling and increasingly, gaming too.”

Lee Willows, Founder and CEO of YGAM, established the organisation in 2014 alongside founder patrons Anne and Keith Evans, after their own personal experiences with gambling harms and the devastating impact it has on family life.

Speaking about expanding operations into Northern Ireland, Lee Willows said: “Having seen first-hand the impact that our work has had in the places we have already rolled out the Young People’s Gambling Harm Prevention Programme in partnership with GamCare, I am thrilled that we are now able, with the support of Youth Work Alliance, to start delivering the programme in Northern Ireland. As well as educating, informing, and safeguarding, it is also vital that we raise awareness and start a conversation about those very personal experiences of gambling related harms in communities across Northern Ireland.”

Anna Hemmings, CEO at GamCare, says: “The expansion of our work into Northern Ireland is a great step for this programme. The partnership relationship really makes this work unique so I’m really pleased we, alongside YGAM, will be working with the Youth Work Alliance. No matter where young people are located the challenges they face when dealing with gambling harms are the same. The Young People’s Gambling Harm Prevention Programme will give young people in Northern Ireland the opportunity to explore how gambling might be affecting them in a safe and trusted environment, giving them the tools to make good decisions.”

The evidence-led, evaluated, and accredited education programmes extend beyond the individuals they reach directly by equipping people with the skills and confidence to talk to others about gambling harms and identify harmful behaviour in those close to them. To ensure the programme is delivered throughout the COVID19 lockdown, resources have been further enriched by quality video and digital content reflective of the spaces in which young people consume information.  Those identified through the programme as being impacted by gambling-related harm will be able to receive seamless access to help and support from GamCare staff and via its Youth facing website– BigDeal.

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