October 31, 2021

Safer Gambling Week and harm prevention

Anna Niemczewska
Safer Gambling Week and harm prevention

Safer Gambling Week is the perfect time to explore the role of prevention in the work done by a community-based organisation such as Betknowmore.

There are two main cornerstones to our work when meeting clients: i) including lived experience in ourservice and training design, ii) meeting people where they are.

The first of these means that all our services include the voices of people who have experience of multiple types of support and recovery. Just as each gambling harms journey is unique so is each road to recovery. Not being a clinical service, we are able to provide a safe space for individualsin crises and guide them towards taking control of their life again.

The second cornerstone means that not only do we physically go out to meet our clients where convenient for them, but we also work with clients whose relationships with gambling are at different stages. We see a lot of people who are in an ‘all or nothing’ crisis point; we are often contacted by worried family members of someone whose gambling is taking them away from their loved ones or their job; we work with older people who suddenly have more time on their hands with few ideas of how to fill it other than at the bookies or with (increasingly easy) online gambling; or we are contacted by parents of young children who are stressed and saw gambling as a pleasant distraction until it got out of hand.

We welcome all these individuals, whatever stage they are in. More and more, though, given our ethos of working with community members and the strong Public Health thinking surrounding Gambling Harms, we are increasing our efforts on prevention. We want people to be aware of the possible harms associated with gambling so that they can manage their risk safely – helping them to be able to either stop or minimise their gambling before they hit a crisis.

During Safer Gambling week we will be promoting our RED-E tool. This is a tool that we use in our work with clients, but it can also be used by people to help themselves before or even without becoming involved with Betknowmore UK.

The aims underlying RED-E are to help an individual think about the Role gambling has in their life, the Emotions associated with gambling, the Decision making around gambling and to Explore how these affect their life. Using the tools within the RED-E framework,the individual is supported to construct a timeline identifying the factors – such as major life events, changes in circumstance or periods of low activity – which can contribute to unsafe gambling. When people take the time to reflect on the place gambling has in their or their loved ones lives and understand the factors which affect it, their risk of unsafe gambling is decreased. RED-E helps people to pause, reflect and explore their relationship with gambling, and Safer Gambling Week is the perfect time to highlight this!

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