Local authorities in the North-East have secured funding to help tackle gambling-related harm in the region.
The Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH) for the North-East has successfully bid for £750,000 from the Gambling Commission’s Regulatory Settlements Fund to develop a regional three-year pilot programme dedicated to exploring effective ways to reduce the harm caused by gambling.
Gambling-related harms can have a negative impact on the health and wellbeing of individuals, families, communities, and society.
They can cause loss of employment, debt, crime, breakdown of relationships and deterioration of physical and mental health. At its worst, gambling can contribute to loss of life through suicide.
Harms can be experienced not just by gamblers themselves. They can also affect their children, partners, wider families and social networks, employers, communities and society as a whole.
The funding will be used to develop new ways of supporting those affected. This could include the development of awareness campaigns, training resources for staff or new ways to refer people for treatment.
People who have experienced gambling harms will be involved in the development of the programme, and their experiences will help to shape the support on offer.
Amanda Healy, director of Public Health at Durham County Council and chair for ADPH North-East, said: “Evidence has shown the North East has higher rates of gambling-related harms than any other region, so we welcome this funding which will enable us to help our most affected communities in the best possible way.
“We are looking forward to working with like-minded partners across the region and are grateful for their support in developing the programme.”
Part of the funding will be used to independently evaluate the programme.
The evaluation work will be led by researchers from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) North East and North Cumbria.
The research will include working with people who have experienced gambling-related issues and measuring the impact of the programme on harm reduction, harm prevention and improvement in health and wellbeing.
Sarah Bowman-Abouna, director of Public Health at Stockton Borough Council and Department of Public Health sponsor for gambling-related harms, said: “Harms associated with gambling are negatively affecting people and their loved ones in our region.
“This funding from the Gambling Commission’s Regulatory Settlement Fund will enable the North-East to build capacity and resilience with regards to addressing gambling harms over the next three years.
“We will take a public health approach to this work, focussing on prevention and promotion within a whole systems approach.”
Professor Eileen Kaner, director of the NIHR ARC North-East and North Cumbria, is leading the research team based at Newcastle University.
She said: “This is a really important piece of work for our region, and we’re very pleased that the funding bid was successful.
“Harmful gambling is a serious public health issue, as well as a very complex issue. It’s a particular concern in the North-East and is closely interlinked with other inequalities we experience in our region, including around difficult living circumstances, existing mental health conditions, lower quality of life and substance misuse.
“Our work to evaluate this pilot programme will help us to develop new evidence around what works when it comes to reducing harm, which can be used by policy makers to shape new and more effective support programmes for the future.”