GamCare cites ‘change, growth and challenges’ in final review of three-year strategy

Nearing the end of its three-year strategy, GamCare has highlighted the last 12 months of the initiative as ‘an incredible period of change, growth, and of course, recent challenge’, citing a number of major developments for both itself and the industry.

Identifying a number of ‘key sector developments’ for 2020/21 in its Trustees Annual Review, the gambling harm awareness charity identified the onset of the 2005 Gambling Act review, banning of credit cards as a method of payment for gaming by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) and resignation of Neil McArthur as UKGC CEO as significant moments for the industry.

Focusing on its own operations in the final year of the plan, GamCare highlighted the introduction of its Young People Service to provide ‘dedicated practitioners’ offering support and treatment to the 11-18 demographic in the UK, and detailed that 70% of people who used its services successfully completed their treatment programme, 

Meanwhile, GamCare experienced a 9% increase in calls and chats with 42,000 answered over the year, whilst the number of treatment sessions rose by 14% to 55,000 and the charity organised 15,000 professionals to work with ‘at-risk individuals’ and provide gambling awareness training, a 64% increase in 2019/20.

Although during the start of the year the number of calls to the charity’s National Gambling Helpline declined – which GamCare attributed to ‘privacy issues in the home, and restricted physical access to services’ due to COVID-19 restrictions – the helpline ultimately received ‘more calls than ever’ and 95% of users said they would recommend the service, whilst a further 1,500,692 people visited the group’s website.

“Despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, this year we have reached more people than ever,” said GamCare CEO Anna Hemmings. “For those harmed by gambling, this was a particularly challenging year, in which the isolation, stress and money worries may have been amplified by the pandemic.”

An additional key highlight of the final year of the three-year strategy was the organisation’s partnership with Gamban and GAMSTOP, which saw the trio launch the TalkBanStop 12 month pilot initiative in the spring of 2021 to promote GamCare’s support services, Gamban’s spending control tools and GAMSTOP’s self-exclusion scheme.

Highlighting the campaign’s reach, GamCare detailed that the pilot was promoted to over five million people whilst adding that over 55% of people taking out a Gamban licence chose the maximum period of time.

Gamban founder, Jack Symons, said: “Working in partnership with gamcare on the TalkBanStop initiative has been a very positive experience. GamCare’s dedication to supporting individuals and affected others experiencing gambling related harm, along with a high level of focus, strategy and wisdom, has made the process of delivering the TalkBanStop initiative relatively straightforward.”

Providing an overview of the entire three-year plan, GamCare detailed that 35 gambling brands across 13 businesses cooperated with the company to work towards or achieve the Safer Gambling Standard over the entire 36 month period.

Breaking down the figures, over 100,000 were reached via its helpline, online and treatment services and 27,000 users received specialist treatment, with 70% of service users completing their treatment programmes and the number of people supported increasing by 10% year-on-year.

“We are proud of all our teams, who have shown great resilience throughout, and who have continued to demonstrate their passion and commitment to the work that we do,” Hemmings added. “This meant GamCare was available 24/7, year-round, to offer support to people affected by gambling harms.  

“Over the next three years, we want to continue to raise awareness of the impact of gambling harms and expand our services to make lasting and positive changes.”

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