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Feature article: Citizens Advice Gambling Support Service (East Midlands

By Greg Stenson, Project Lead for the Gambling Support Service in Derby

In 2018 GambleAware announced two year £1.5m partnership with Citizens Advice designed to help front line staff better understand, prevent and reduce gambling related harms – to be delivered via 10 hubs in England and two in Wales (select “local initiatives” for the relevant contact details).

Citizens advice Mid Mercia is delivering the East Midlands Gambling Support Service (GSS) from two local bases: Sinfin (Derby city) and Church Gresley (surrounding rural towns and villages in South Derbyshire).

Advocating a public-health approach, we are now working with local authorities and Public Health teams across the East Midlands region to improve the awareness of gambling-related harm and the steps that can be taken to mitigate associated risks.

We have been attending and presenting to all of the health & well-being groups, travelling across the whole region to deliver training and raise awareness through networking events and open days. The GSS project has received some really positive feedback, particularly in areas such as Bolsover, North-East Derbyshire and South Derbyshire. 

One tool that we are advocating is the GambleAware Screening Tool- the method of identification that we use with every client accessing support at our local offices, having trialled it for 6 weeks during the summer before fully embedding it. The four questions of the GambleAware Screening Tool are a quick and efficient way of potentially identifying those at risk, or severely harmed directly or indirectly, by gambling.

South Derbyshire district council are extremely impressed with the project and are keen to push gambling into the forefront (both research & treatment). For example their housing department is asking the four screening questions to council tenants across all wards via a text messaging service.

Through advocating the pre-screening tool, and stressing the importance of early identification, we are hoping that more organisations will use a tool (such as the GAST) within their internal assessments. We provide guidelines about the different scores, the appropriate level of support and how to refer to GamCare specialists.

We have also delivered front line training to a number of teams within Public Health Derbyshire including health improvement workers and disability support officers.

We are working alongside Andrea Barber, the Public Health practitioner leading on measuring the scale of gambling related harm across the county.  Her work includes mapping land-based establishments, comparing it to demographics and areas of deprivation, to see whether a pattern emerges. This work is linked to PHE national strategy 

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