31 August 2022
Citizens Advice Bureaux across Scotland provide free, impartial and confidential advice to people on a range of topics, from benefits to debt, from housing to healthcare provision. We have 59 independent Citizens Advice Bureaux covering Scotland, from Shetland to the Borders. Because Citizens Advice Bureaux are managed and used by people within the community, they deliver services that meet the needs of local people. They provide practical advice, negotiate on behalf of clients and even represent them formally, such as at tribunal hearings.
One area that Citizens Advice Bureaux provide advice to people on is around gambling harms. We are funded by GambleAware for a period of 3 years (April 2022-March 2025) to deliver our Gambling Support Service project, following on from our previously successful two year project.
Our Gambling Support Service is delivered by four Citizens Advice Bureaux (Inverness, Airdrie, South West Aberdeenshire and West Lothian) who employ Training and Engagement Officers (TEOs). The role of a TEO is varied and they wear several different “hats” – they provide training on gambling harms to frontline workers and CAB advisers, they also raise awareness of gambling harms in their local communities, and lastly, they provide advice to clients affected by gambling harms, including affected others.
Our Training and Engagement Officers are available to provide free training to organisations on identifying and supporting people affected by gambling harms. We hope that by delivering training to a range of organisations across Scotland, we can help not only to raise awareness of gambling harms, but to also equip staff with the skills and knowledge to help clients by signposting or referring them onto specialist services who support people affected.
Training can be delivered online or in person at a time that suits your needs. Please do contact us at GamblingSupport@scottishcabs.org.uk to arrange a session.
Our TEO, Mike Youatt, who has worked on this Project for over the last year, says:
"This is definitely one of the most interesting and rewarding projects I have ever worked on.
"I have found that gambling harms and their effect on the gambler, their family and others is not an issue that organisations or the wider public generally tend to recognise. Gambling can truly be a ‘hidden addiction’ and gambling harms deserve to be fully addressed, and support provided.
"I have delivered training to a range of organisations across the public and third sector. On each occasion the information we have provided and sources of help with gambling harms we have shared has been described as informative and thought-provoking."
Another key element of our service is providing advice to clients. People come into their local CAB office for advice on a range of topics and usually people need help with more than one issue. Our advisers provide holistic advice to people and equip them with the information they need to decide a way forward.
People who experience gambling harms may be unaware that they are affected, or they may know but are unlikely to disclose this to anyone, not even their family. A key part of our work is trying to normalise talking about gambling harms and reduce the shame and stigma that is associated with it. The more that we can raise awareness and train staff to understand the signs, the more people we can help by signposting or referring them onto specialist services who support people affected by gambling harms.
The film One Last Spin is a powerful example of this. The voices of those affected by gambling harms emphasises the need for gambling harms to be spoken about more openly throughout society. We would encourage anyone who hasn’t seen the film to watch it to truly understand the impact gambling harms have on individuals and their families (see link below).
Working in Partnership
We are also keen to build relationships with other organisations working within the gambling harms sector. We believe that sharing knowledge and best practice across organisations is key to enhancing the work that we all do to achieve our common goal: helping people affected by gambling harms in Scotland. If you would like to discuss partnership working opportunities, please do contact us at GamblingSupport@scottishcabs.org.uk.
The vital work that Citizens Advice Bureaux do across Scotland to raise awareness of gambling harms, train staff on identifying and advising people on gambling harms and the advice they provide to CAB clients cannot be underestimated. We hope that through our work we can help normalise talking about gambling harms and the impact gambling has on people and their families, which will encourage more people receive the help they need.
You can read more about the Gambling Support Service on our website here: https://www.cas.org.uk/spotlight/gambling-support-service
You can read more about the film One Last Spin on their webpage here: https://onelastspin.vision/
If you would like to seek help and support for difficulties related to gambling, please contact the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020 133, or the Live Chat service via https://www.begambleaware.org
If you are experiencing problems with gambling or gambling harms, you can access local Gamblers Anonymous support groups hosted by Gamblers Anonymous Scotland. You can call their 24 hour helpline: 0370 050 8881. You can also use their webchat service through their website: GA Scotland – Gamblers Anonymous Scotland (ga-scotland.org)
Laura Mallis is the former Project Coordinator for the Gambling Support Service