March 27, 2024

Betknowmore UK LEAB - Meet the Board

Kev Clelland
Betknowmore UK LEAB - Meet the Board

The Betknowmore UK Lived Experience Advisory Board (LEAB) will be a critical friend to the Board of Trustees and senior management team, ensuring the voices of lived experience of gambling harms continue to provide insightful and objective recommendations.

Meeting at least once a quarter, the LEAB is comprised entirely of people with lived experience of gambling harms, including those who have been affected by others people’s gambling.

All members will serve for two years, and will receive ongoing support in the form of wellbeing check-ins and regular 1:1 supervision with Betknowmore UK Activities and Volunteer Coordinator, Ben Howard.

We have spoken to all four members to find out more about their journeys, and what has brought them to join the LEAB.

Andy May

I went from being your average safe and responsible weekend sports bettor to living a chaotic lifestyle as gambling addiction took over my life. Whilst simultaneously hiding my problems from my family, this culminated in me committing fraud to fund my gambling and I served a prison sentence accordingly.

Training as a recovery coach in the summer of 2023, I am keen to continually expand my learnings around addiction. Having never had the courage to reach out for appropriate support when I was struggling, I want to do what I can to reduce the stigma around gambling addiction and encourage people to get help.

In recovery now for three-and-a-half years, I have taken part in various media projects to support GambleAware’s stigma campaign and I hope to utilise my experiences during a negative period in my life for the good of others.

Michelle Franklin

I am Michelle, I am 51 years old, and I live in Essex. I am married and I have two sons aged 31 and 28. My husband is an ex-LondonFirefighter and since he retired from the brigade we have run our own training company.  

I have lived experience as an affected other through my son’s gambling addiction. Charlie became an addict at 13 when he discovered online poker and slot machines. Gambling addiction is the most frightening of all the addictions I have experience of. There is no immediate tell that would identify someone as having a problem with gambling. We have lost a lot through this horrendous illness, but I haven’t lost my son, so I count myself as one of the lucky ones.

Charlie received treatment in a well-known addition centre, but they allowed him to have his mobile phone meaning he was able to gamble in his room in the evenings. This opened my eyes to the lack of understanding and support around gambling addiction.

I am proud to be a part of the Betknowmore UK Lived Experience Advisory Board and I hope that I can bring a little of my experience to the table. I want to help reduce the stigma around gambling addiction, help start the conversation and keep it going.  

My youngest son, as well as working in the family business, is a professional wrestler and I really enjoy watching him at the various shows he is booked to perform at. I also love walking my eldest son’s dog, Daisy.

Robbie Nimmon

My name is Robbie and I started gambling around 16/17 years old. It started to become an issue when I was 20/21 and I experienced significant harm, both financially and mentally. It helped me escape from reality and my emotions but this was always only until the money was gone. When there were no more funds to gamble, negative feelings would always come back worse than before, but I was in denial and I didn’t believe that I had an addiction despite the harm I was causing. When I look back now, it is so clear that this was a progressive addiction.

The last time I gambled was 28 January 2020. Recovery is hard but regret is harder so I choose to take each day as it comes and fight this addiction on a daily basis. The early days of recovery were difficult as I did not have an escape for my negative emotions, but gradually I have been able to explore positive activities that give me an outlet. I never had an excuse not to gamble so I try not to offer any excuses to not engage in positive outlets.

Dhruv Singh Tomar

I have nearly two decades of lived experience of gambling harm, directly and indirectly, and I have been in recovery for the past three and a half years. I am also one of the founding members of the Gambling Lived Experience Network (GLEN) where I helped form a lived experience panel in 2021 and collaborated with others to establish its core principles.

I am passionate about supporting others who are suffering from the harmful effects of their gambling, and I have worked as a peer researcher on projects with Betknowmore, Ipsos MORI and GamCare, and recorded a national radio advert for GambleAware. I frequently chair my local Gamblers Anonymous (GA) meetings and I participated in the Howard League report on gambling-related harm within ethnic minority communities.

I have been employed by Royal Mail for the past 12 years, where I am currently a workplace coach, and I have a love for cricket. I am an English Cricket Board (ECB) Level 1 coach, working with youth teams at my local cricket club where I am also a social secretary and Sunday team captain.

I am fluent in English, Hindi, Punjabi and Guajarati, and I was also recently elected as a councillor for Slough Borough Council.

You can find out more about the Betknowmore UK Lived Experience Advisory Board here.

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