Citizens Advice in partnership with GambleAware is expanding services in Wales to prevent gambling-related harm and get people the support and advice they need.
The Citizens Advice Gambling Support Service in Wales will be delivered by Citizens Advice Rhondda Cynon Taff for west and south Wales with Citizens Advice Denbighshire in the north and mid-Wales region.
These services are two of the 12 regional offices across Wales and England funded by a £1.5 million, two-year partnership with GambleAware. The regional offices work in partnership with the National Gambling Treatment Service to provide support to clients.
In Wales the National Gambling Treatment Service provider is the Addiction Recovery Agency (ARA) which has seen recent additional investment from GambleAware to expand treatment services in Wales.
A dedicated project worker based at the two local Citizens Advice will teach frontline staff to identify anyone at risk of gambling-related harm and how to help them
Routine screening will take place in both local Citizens Advice to identify clients at risk and provide advice and give valuable insight into who is more vulnerable to gambling harm and the problems it causes.
Specialist treatment services will be provided by ARA for Rhondda Cynon Taff and Denbighshire residents as part of the expansion of treatment services in Wales.
Citizens Advice research found that more than three-in-four gamblers - and two-in-five people affected by a gambler - had built up debt.
More than one third of families with children interviewed could not afford essential household costs such as food as a result of a family member’s gambling.
And two-in-three gamblers Citizens Advice interviewed by Citizens Advice reported mental distress as an impact of their gambling.
Rebecca Woolley, director of Citizens Advice Cymru, said: “I'm pleased our offices in Wales will be able to support more people with gambling problems. Working in partnership with GambleAware and ARA means we can provide a holistic approach to help people find a way forward with the problems gambling can cause.”
Marc Etches, Chief Executive of GambleAware said: “GambleAware is pleased to commission Citizens Advice to train frontline advisers in Wales. It is vital that a wide range of support agencies are able to identify and offer support to people who may be suffering gambling-related harms.”
Mick Antoniw, Assembly Member representing Pontypridd, said: “Problems related to gambling addiction are increasing, particularly among women and young people. It is still a largely unrecognised issue so I welcome the specialist support that is now going to be provided by Citizens Advice Rhondda Cynon Taff as a first step.
“In the long term we need to tackle the growth of online gambling addiction. In the short term it is vital there is a source of support available to those who need it.”
Darren Millar, Assembly Member representing Clwyd West, said: “I’m delighted to hear about this new service. It will help to raise awareness of the risks associated with gambling and will be available to help people affected by gambling across North Wales.
“Excessive gambling is a public health risk that ruins the lives of gamblers and their loved ones, and we must do all we can to help those affected. With the advent of online gambling and fixed odds betting terminals, more and more people are exposed to the risk of becoming
problem gamblers and need help and advice.”
Dr Frank Atherton, Wales Chief Medical Officer, said: “I welcome this new Citizens Advice Gambling Support service, which marks an important step towards expanding prevention and treatment services for persons affected by gambling-related harm in Wales.
“I highlighted the Newport pilot project as a case study in my 2017 Annual Report. The launch of two new hubs from which a holistic service for members of the public will be offered, as well as training for front line staff, shows great progress on this important public health issues."