Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM) will deliver its education and support programme across Northern Ireland with the support of GamCare.
The new initiative will primarily focus on safeguarding future generations from gambling and gaming related harms, building on the initiative which YGAM – with the backing of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) – has previously rolled out across England and Wales.
Both YGAM and GamCare will work together to 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.
“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,” explained Lee Willows, founder and CEO of YGAM.
“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.”
Based in Belfast, Youth Work Alliance will support YGAM in the roll out of its evidence-led and evaluated training sessions, in addition to giving them access to City & Guilds assured training and education resources.
This, according to YGAM, will ensure that both teachers and youth workers have access to a ‘full curriculum of lesson plans for primary and secondary age children as well as youth work specific resources’.
Stephen Dallas, CEO of Youth Work Alliance, stated: “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.”
YGAM’s work in Northern Ireland has received the support of Robbie Butler MLA, an Ulster Unionist representative and chair of the All Party Group on Reducing Harm Related to Gambling in Stormont.
Having previously campaigned for new laws to help protect individuals from gambling related harms, Butler has welcomed the announcement to deliver new education initiatives which aim on mitigating the risks associated with gambling.
“I welcome this initiative from Youth Work Alliance,” he said. “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.”
To ensure that the programme is delivered throughout the lockdown, GamCare and YGAM have allocated resources alongside additional video and digital content which the duo state is ‘ reflective of the spaces in which young people consume information’.
Those identified through the programme will be able to receive access to help and support from GamCare staff and via its Youth facing website– BigDeal.
Anna Hemmings, CEO at GamCare, concluded: “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.”