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Supporting informed choices about gambling

The rate of ‘problem gambling’ is highest in young adults in Scotland and an estimated 55,000 11-16 year olds are thought to have a gambling problem. Warren Hughes, of youthwork organisation Fast Forward, says a new education programme could hold the key to awareness and prevention.

Fast Forward is Scotland's national youthwork organisation, specialising in risk-taking behaviours. Our work is about enabling children and young people to make informed choices about their health and wellbeing. We work in partnership with local and national agencies and we provide upskilling and training to staff in schools and community organisations.  

In partnership with the RCA Trust, we’re launching a new gambling education programme for young people called The Edge.

This unique programme will be available free of charge for youth services and youth groups across Scotland. Each session will develop young people’s knowledge around gambling and associated risks, whilst upskilling the staff in their own delivery of gambling education and prevention. 

Research in Scotland has found the rate of ‘problem gambling’ is highest in young adults (13.1% of 18-24 year olds) highlighting the need for education and prevention. However, gambling harm is not experienced exclusively by adults. Children are more likely to experience harm as a result of their own gambling and ‘problem gambling’ rates have been found to be higher among children than they are for adults with an estimated 55,000 children aged 11-16 now classed as having a gambling problem. 

Over the last 10 years, Fast Forward and RCA Trust have been working to raise awareness and engage young people in gambling education and prevention across Scotland. There has been a clear need for professional training around gambling harm reduction as well as direct involvement with young people and vulnerable groups. By combining the knowledge, skills and experiences of the gambling education specialists at both organisations, we hope to be able to reduce the potential risk of young people experiencing gambling harm. 

Behaviour change in relation to risk-taking behaviour is a long process that requires time and continued support; for this reason, prevention efforts should be sustained and ongoing. Despite being commonly requested, one-off sessions may have limited effect, and possibly not reflect the professional training currently provided by the Scottish Gambling Education Hub if done in isolation. ‘The Edge’ youth programme will include three consecutive, interactive sessions delivered directly to young people either online or in-person.  

Throughout the programme we will raise awareness of gambling harms, challenge unhealthy attitudes towards gambling, give young people the information they need to make informed choices and signpost support that is available in Scotland. For the youth-facing professionals, we will provide the information, skills and guidance to support in the delivery of these sessions by demonstrating the key principles of effective gambling education and prevention programmes. 

This pilot programme has been funded until the end of October 2021. We encourage anyone working in youth services who’s interested to get in touch and help us support long-term behaviour change.

For more information or to book your sessions, please contact Warren Hughes, Project Manager, warren@fastforward.org.uk. 

Click here for more information about Fast Forward

About the author

Warren Hughes is Project Manager at Fast Forward

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