"The Gambling Education Hub team embarked on a learning curve to swiftly respond to the new circumstances."

The Gambling Education Hub, a Fast Forward programme run in partnership with GambleAware, supports young people’s health and wellbeing by promoting gambling education and prevention across Scotland. We do this through offering free training, consultancy and resources to organisations working with children, young people and families.

Earlier this year, our team had secured its first trip to Shetland and Orkney. The purpose was to deliver a series of gambling education CPD (Continuing Professional Development) sessions for practitioners working with young people and families across a variety of local organisations.

And then, exactly when our suitcases were packed, the lockdown began. The weeks and months since then have certainly been challenging in countless ways for all of us.

From a project delivery perspective, the Gambling Education Hub team embarked on a learning curve to swiftly respond to the new circumstances and uphold our commitment to support organisations across Scotland in providing gambling education and prevention opportunities.

First of all, we established a new model for the delivery of training through webinars. The month of April saw a pause in our training delivery, as the team worked to identify and develop our new strategy and approach regarding online CPD sessions. This adaptation required new tools and software, but most importantly it called for careful planning in order to respond to the new environment in a timely manner without compromising the high-quality standards of our training programme. Webinars present very different engagement dynamics compared to a traditional classroom, and as such online sessions need to be shorter than our half-day face-to-face CPD sessions. We navigated these changes to ensure that the content and support we offer would still enable participants to achieve the desired learning outcomes.

It has now been around three months since we launched our online training programme (this link will take you away from our website): our webinars offer a user-friendly and interactive approach, which maximise participants’ learning and engagement. While we continue to improve as we grow in experience, the innovative model we established was immediately met with extremely positive feedback from participants.

Alongside this innovative delivery model, our team further developed the content of our sessions. Speaking with stakeholders, we have often been asked about young people being exposed to gambling-like features in online games. Practitioners have also recently voiced these concerns also in relation to the experience of young people during lockdown. This is an understandable concern, as 9 in 10 children (this link will take you away from our website) in the UK play video games. We have therefore included in our training portfolio an additional CPD session: “Gaming, Online Gambling and Young People.” This webinar, designed for practitioners who already attended a gambling education training, adopts a harm reduction approach that aims to provide participants with a better understanding of the convergence of gaming and gambling, a stronger awareness of the motivations and risks linked to these online behaviours, and information about resources that organisations can access to enable young people to make informed choices. All our webinars also provide information about support services (this link will take you away from our website) available.

Our team encourages practitioners to use the learning gained through our webinars to then identify actions which they could take forward in order to include gambling education and prevention in their existing services, promoting the health and wellbeing of young people.

We acknowledge that the lockdown has sparked challenges for all the organisations we work with. Previously, most stakeholders were delivering face-to-face sessions for children, young people and families. As these more traditional approaches have become unavailable, the materials and support provided by the Gambling Education Hub also changed to cater for this new landscape.

For example, we’re encouraging youth workers to apply to our Gambling Education and Prevention Small Action Fund (this link will take you away from our website) to develop local youth-led initiatives through the use of digital youth work skills: projects could include developing awareness-raising podcasts, videos or other digital content. We are supporting organisations in identifying gambling-related information that would be relevant for them to include in their website, through our GamWeb self-assessment tool (this link will take you away from our website). We are also offering guidelines enabling services to design social media campaigns to share messages about safer gambling and support available.

All the webinars, resources and support offered by the Gambling Education Hub are free of charge. To find out more, contact Chiara Marin, Project Manager, at chiara@fastforward.org.uk

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