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Gambling support service celebrates five-year anniversary


TWO charities have marked the five-year anniversary of their partnership – helping Wigan and Leigh residents who are suffering from gambling-related harm.

Compassion in Action (CIA) welcomes the team from Beacon Counselling Trust (BCT) to its Patrick House headquarters every Wednesday.

People with gambling-related issues – including affected partners, family members and friends – can access free confidential counselling on site with no waiting list, commissioned through GambleAware and GamCare.

After helping hundreds of people over the past five years, the charities united for a celebratory lunch with special guests from Wigan Council and Citizens Advice (Wigan Borough).

“We know that of the approximately 500,000 problem gamblers in the UK, less than 15,000 people access counselling services nationally,” said Neil Platt, Clinical Director of BCT.

“That is why our partnership-working with Compassion in Action is so important; it has allowed us to take our service into the heart of the Wigan and Leigh community and engage hundreds of people in need. I would like to thank Pam Gilligan and her team for warmly welcoming our counsellors to Patrick House over the past five years so that they can offer face-to-face therapeutic support.”

Statistics show that problem gamblers are nearly six times more likely to have been a hospital inpatient in the last three months. They are also four-and-a-half times more likely to have been in prison and more than eight times more likely to be homeless than the general population.

The anniversary, therefore, offered the opportunity for third-sector providers and the Council to reflect on emerging trends in gambling – including the link with austerity – and how they can work together to support those affected.

“Poverty is a powerful driver for gambling – whether that’s absolute poverty where people cannot meet their daily needs, or relative poverty when people lack the minimum amount of income needed to aspire to a particular standard of living,” explained Neil, who was joined by his Trustee Mike Hurst.

“In their desperation we see some people engaging in harmful gambling, which impacts not just on the gamblers themselves but their family and friends. We need to get the awareness of our services into community hubs, which is why we will continue to work positively with other third-sector partners like Compassion in Action.”

Other guests at the event included Lisa Kidston, Chief Officer of Citizens Advice (Wigan Borough) and Joanne Wilmott, Assistant Director of Adult Social Care at Wigan Council.

Host Pam Gilligan, who is the Chief Executive of CIA, unveiled a commemorative cake and joined her guests for a lunch prepared by the charity’s service users.

“Neil and his team have been a valued part of our extended family these past five years,” she said. “Together, we are united in our compassion and humanity for people in crisis and honoured to open our doors to those affected by gambling.

‘Our anniversary has been an opportunity to reflect on what we have accomplished these past five years with the support of our friends at the Council and Citizens Advice, as well as to explore how we can evolve our service to meet the changing needs of our local community.”

If you have been affected by harmful gambling and you would like to access Beacon Counselling Trust’s service at Patrick House, telephone 01942 901233 or the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020 133.

Pictured left to right are Beacon Counselling Trust (BCT) counsellors Alison Barrow and Jacki Wild, BCT Trustee Mike Hurst, Assistant Director of Adult Social Care at Wigan Council Joanne Wilmott, Compassion in Action (CIA) Chief Executive Pam Gilligan, BCT Clinical Director Neil Platt, BCT counsellor Pamela Gill and Citizens Advice (Wigan Borough) Chief Officer Lisa Kidston.