Citizens Advice Wirral rolls out gambling support service that aims to tackle problems early

Citizens Advice Wirral has rolled out a new service that will help frontline staff and volunteers spot the signs of gambling-related harm early.

The Gambling Support Service, which takes a public health approach to the problem, will be 1 of 10 services across the country funded by a £1.5 million, 2-year partnership with GambleAware.

A dedicated trainer will teach frontline staff from a range of organisations to identify anyone at risk of gambling-related harm and support them with the knock-on effects it can have, such as debt, work and housing problems.

The staff will learn how gambling has changed, who’s more at risk of gambling-related harm and how to spot the signs and symptoms. They will be able to offer advice and information and know how to refer people to specialist support.

The service will be delivered across North West to raise awareness of gambling-related harm and train frontline staff at organisations, such as councils, housing associations, job centres and voluntary sector organisations so they can help people get the support and advice they need.

People with gambling-related harm are more likely to seek help for problems such as debt than they are for gambling, which puts frontline staff in a unique position to tackle root causes early.

James Callaway, Gambling Support Service Project Worker said,

‘A recent example of how Citizens Advice has supported someone who was a harmful gambler was Alicia*. Alicia had contacted Citizens Advice Wirral as she had numerous debts including council tax debt and water arrears. After exploring her debt problems I was able to establish that Alicia was using her wages to play online bingo instead of paying her bills. I supported her to access GamCare counselling and the local Gamblers Anonymous group and also agreed a strategy for her to be able to pay off her debts by making affordable payment offers to each of her creditors. I’m pleased to say that Alicia is no longer gambling and is keeping up with her debt repayments and paying her bills.’

GambleAware’s £1.5 million partnership funding comes after a successful pilot project the charity ran with Citizens Advice Newport in Wales.

Carol Johnson-Eyre, Chief Officer of Citizens Advice Wirral, said:

“Problem gambling can set off a chain reaction of issues and lead to debt, eviction, mental health problems and relationship breakdown. It not only causes problems for those gambling but for their family, friends and colleagues as well. This service means frontline staff and volunteers can develop and share the skills necessary to spot signs of problem gambling early to help prevent the knock-on problems getting worse.”

Katie Fry, who ran the pilot project at Citizens Advice Newport and is now overseeing the rollout across England and Wales, said:

“In two years, we trained more than 2,000 advisers and volunteers to recognise gambling issues and help people to overcome them. I’m delighted the success of our project can now grow across the country so we can reach more people who may be at risk of gambling-related harm.”

 

*Client name changed to protect their anonymity