YGA Mpic

Linda Scollins Smith

At YGAM, our key area of focus is prevention, and we passionately believe that education has a crucial role to play.

As the country emerges from the global pandemic, the need to raise awareness of gambling harms and the support available for people who may be struggling is more important than ever.

At YGAM, our key area of focus is prevention, and we passionately believe that education has a crucial role to play.

The demand for evidence-led, age-appropriate education to safeguard young people against gaming and gambling harms is high across a wide range of sectors and communities. This education should be targeted at not just young people but also parents, teachers, youth workers, health professionals and those with influence and care over young people. Through our portfolio of education programmes, we’re supporting a wide range of professionals with the expert knowledge and understanding needed to help prevent harm and raise awareness of the potential risks of gambling

Working in collaboration with our partners GamCare, we’re now approaching the end of the second full year of the ‘Young People’s Gambling Harm Prevention Programme’. We’re so proud of our progress and impact. The four-year programme is the largest of its kind and aims to reach millions of young people across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The YGAM team has navigated the ongoing challenges of the pandemic during 2021 to surpass all targets and register real impact.

Our fantastic education team is a talented mix of formers teachers, youth workers, safeguarding leads, practitioners, parents and inspirational individuals who are now using their own lived experience to help prevent future generations going through the experiences they did. Their skills and insight ensure our workshop content and resources are of the highest standards and meet the needs of the education sector. It is encouraging to see gambling now featured on the PSHE curriculum in England and we’ve worked hard to make sure our resources are mapped accordingly to the curriculums in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

We believe early age-appropriate education is an effective method to prevent harm, and that's why we're committed to working so closely with thousands of excellent teachers, youth workers and key support staff. We ensure any materials delivered are age appropriate and evidence led. Since YGAM’s inception we have had a relentless focus on independent evaluations and securing external accreditations for our work. We must continue to be guided by professionals working in the education sector to deliver the most successful prevention programmes to young people.

Since the Young People’s Gambling Harm Prevention Programme was launched in January 2019, we have trained over 6000 professionals who have indicated that together they will use our resources to reach over one million young people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This is an extraordinary accomplishment and one that demonstrates the scale and impact of this momentous initiative.

It is so rewarding to be part of the gambling harm prevention sector which is full of capable people and organisations working tirelessly to reduce harms. No one organisation can claim to know all the answers, so a collaborative approach is the most effective way to make a difference. We all have so much to offer and that’s why we’re proud to be working with some brilliant partners such as Betknowmore, Gamcare, TalkGEN, Red Card Gambling Support CIC as well as sharing feedback and best practice with other charities and organisations working in this space. We all have a common goal therefore all ideas, viewpoints and approaches are welcomed.

The Safer Gambling Week campaign provides organisations like YGAM with a unique opportunity to reach millions of people through a variety of platforms. Last year, we saw the sharpest increase in enquiries for our resources during the week and this will have resulted in more young people being educated and safeguarded.

I would like to say a massive thank you to all of my colleagues working in this sector for everything you do to help make a difference. Let’s support, share expertise, collaborate where possible, and concentrate on giving young people the essential education they need to help prevent gambling harms.

Linda Scollins Smith is a former teacher and now Director of Operations at YGAM

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