Alzheimer’s Society: A £2M “Grave Error Of Judgement”

The Alzheimer Society, a charity organization in the UK aming to help people with dementia sustain their normal activities for as long as possible, has been heavily criticized after it has partnered with the William Hill Foundation, in a coordinated effort to make betting shops “safe heaven” for its people. William Hill will have to raise £2 million for the charity during the three years of partnership, while the charity will offer training for the gambling operator’s staff at betting shops on how to safely service clients suffering with the disease.

The Idea Of Profiting From Vulnerable People Is Ludicrous

The partnership that was announced in May last year, on the start of Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Action Week, was aimed at encouraging businesses in the UK to help people with dementia be more included in the society, but, instead, spurred a lot of controversy among health experts dealing with gambling harm prevention and Members of Parliament /MPs/.

“The notion that a person suffering from this should be encouraged to gamble responsibly is ludicrous and from a safeguarding perspective of grave concern. These patients are vulnerable and must be protected from any activity that takes financial advantage of them.”

Henrietta Bowden-Jones, Director, NHS’s National Problem Gambling Clinic

The MP who has led the campaign against gambling companies, Carolyn Harris, expressed similar concerns, pointing out that, while she could not see any problem with the fundraising activities from the bookmaker company, the notion that betting shops could be seen as appropriate places for people with dementia was a dreadful idea, exploiting on the vulnerability of the people suffering with the disease.

Dementia People Want To Be Treated Equally

Speaking in defense of its partner selection, the Alzheimer’s Society outlined the charity had responsibilities to meet the needs of people with dementia, who most of all want to continue doing the things they enjoy and stay involved in their communities.

“The point of and benefit of this partnership is to provide the support and training its staff need to deliver the right environment and protections so the 850,000 people living with dementia can enjoy themselves, safely, protected from the threat of financial harm.”

Alex Hyde-Smith, Director of Fundraising, Alzheimer’s Society

The partnership to protect vulnerable people from financial harm comes with the gaming operator which, as part of a penalty imposing streak by the UK Gambling Commission, was fined a record £6.2 million in 2018, for failure to “mitigate risks and have sufficient numbers of staff to ensure their anti-money laundering and social responsibility processes were effective”.

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