UK-based gambling charity GambleAware has called on more individuals who have been negatively affected by gambling to come forward and share their stories. 

The charity recently commissioned a report, carried out by King’s College London, which reviewed 130 studies into gambling-related harm. 

A variety of recommendations are made in the report, including the organisation of workshops with those who have been affected by this activity. 

What did the report have to say? 

The research’s findings argued that there was little in the way of any “substantial evidence of PPIEP (patient and public involvement, engagement and participation) being undertaken within the UK gambling sector”. It was also mentioned, however, that lived experience participation has been taking place – but not recorded properly. 

GambleAware CEO Marc Etches shared his thoughts on the report. He said that the revelations have highlighted that there is room for improvement when it comes to engaging people harmed by gambling in the past. 

“GambleAware commissioned this research to better understand what engagement methods work best in order to successfully draw on the knowledge and expertise of those who have experienced gambling harms. While the research suggests there is already some engagement with these groups, the report has highlighted a clear lack of reporting of such conversations.

“The findings have shown how important it is to capture the diverse range of views available to help improve and strengthen existing research, education and treatment and prevention initiatives while making clear that any new representative network of people from the lived experience community would need to be entirely independent.”

What recommendations have been made? 

The report recommends that a national-level forum is created, where a diverse range of opinions are heard at all levels. To ensure that a variety of voices are heard, it has also been suggested that a strategy on recruiting such individuals should be put in place. 

Any workshops should, in the eyes of research collaborators, run independently to those run by health services other than the NHS, since doing otherwise “could lead to a lack of leadership and potentially be bureaucratic”. 

Another recommendation is that staff and trustees are given opportunities to participate in training that will help them to not just encourage, but also ensure that there is regular engagement and involvement with ‘experts by experience’. 

In addition to the above, the GambleAware-commissioned report believes that representation within the governance and infrastructure of organisations that host workshops and the like should be given to people with personal experience of gambling-related harm.

A number of groups have been underrepresented in discussions about problem gambling so far, including women, young people, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups and vulnerable adults. 

Caroline Norrie is a research fellow at the Health and Social Care Workforce Unit (HSCWRU) of King’s College London’s Policy Institute. She also spoke about the report that her university had carried out. 

She said: “Our research identified a number of recommendations that organisations across the gambling industry could adopt to help strengthen and improve engagement with those who have first-hand experience of gambling harm. 

“We were also able to identify a clear set of requirements for any future forum or network to ensure participants had the right platform to share their experiences, discuss and engage in key policy and priority setting conversations. 

“I look forward to seeing how these recommendations are taken forward across the industry.”