Opinions

We must put the voice of lived experience at the heart of action to reduce gambling harm

Written by: Dr Anna van der Gaag CBE, Chair of the Advisory Board for Safer Gambling and Visiting Professor of Ethics and Regulation at the University of Surrey

Published: 16/07/2020

Anna reflects on the some of the key issues covered in the Advisory Board for Safer Gambling's year one progress report.

We know that people are facing significant harm from gambling and that this harm presents itself for people in multiple ways including harm to their mental and physical health; relationships; and finances. It will also impact on people’s families and wider community. Addressing and understanding these harms must include people with lived experience.

That is why, in my role as Chair of the Advisory Board for Safer Gambling (ABSG), I welcome the emphasis on the involvement of people with lived experience in the the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms (this link will take you away from our website) The ABSG recently published the year-one Progress Report (this link will take you away from our website) on the National Strategy outlining where progress has been made, and where more remains to be done. Running throughout the Progress Report is a strong emphasis on the role of people with lived experience.

For example, our report calls for establishing better measures of gambling harm. The involvement of people with lived experience who know what works to prevent harm, what doesn’t work so well and how to measure improvement in different types of help and support, is crucial to this challenge.

I am encouraged by the work that is taking place in Scotland. In addition to existing initiatives, the Scotland Reducing Gambling Harm programme and the ‘Whole system approach’ being taken in Glasgow (this link will take you away from our website) are two exciting new programmes of work. The Scotland-wide programme will put people with lived experience at the heart of action to reduce gambling harms. The Glasgow programme includes statutory services, the third sector and the voices of people with experience. These programmes will add valuable learning about the requirements for a public health approach towards effective systemic change and transformation, and can help build a movement for change in Scotland.

The ABSG Progress Report calls for an acceleration of efforts to involve those with lived experience of gambling related harms. More is happening here than ever before, as the voices of increasing numbers of individuals, groups and forums are being heard, but these efforts also need to result in action.

As we emerge from a pandemic of unimaginable proportions, faced with an unprecedented need to do things better, the onus is on all of us to ensure that we put things together in a better way. Addressing gambling harm, taking a public health approach, and putting the voice of lived experience at the heart of action to reduce gambling harm is one such area. Critically, reducing harms requires a whole systems response, driven by people with lived experience.

The ABSG Progress report is best read in conjunction with the Gambling Commission’s National Strategy Implementation update (this link will take you away from our website) which provides an overview of actions delivered in the first year of the Strategy, as well as a look ahead to the second year. This includes an updated map of actions (this link will take you away from our website) to help Scotland’s Strategy Implementation Group coordinate activity to reduce gambling harms, and a paper on Next Steps on measuring harms, impact and success (this link will take you away from our website).

We thought you might also like: