December 8, 2022 4 min read

GambleAware Launches New Lived Experience Council to Shape Its Plans

GambleAware, an independent, grant-making charity that is aimed at commissioning prevention and services in England, Scotland, and Wales, has set up a new Lived Experience Council. The group will gather people who have been directly and indirectly impacted by gambling harms. The council will be used as a means of supporting the organization’s short-term and long-term strategic plans.

The Council Will Advise GambleAware’s Activities & Programs

The charity that has worked on a framework agreement with the Gambling Commission to supply the National Strategy has announced that the council will focus on guaranteeing a collaborative approach that would assist communities most in need. Chief executive Zoë Osmond described the council that currently counts 10 members as “further evidence of our proud commitment to engage with the gambling harms community.” Osmond also called the launch a critical time for the organization’s strategic development in the context of the fast-approaching publication of the White Paper along with the subsequent regulatory reform. Osmond spoke about the necessity for the voices of people “with experience and expertise in this public health crisis” to become guides for the charity’s “future path.”

Two-Year Term of Office

The new council that has already reunited for the first time on December 2 will have a term of office of two years and its renewal will be possible a single time. During the meeting, the group decided to appoint Ben Howard as chair. Howard is now a volunteer peer supporter aiding people in recovery. He has a passion for raising awareness in relation to gambling harms and he is studying to become a qualified counselor.

Founding member of the Gambling Lived Experience Network David Quinti has also joined the new council, along with fellow founding father of the same network, Mark Conway. Conway does consultancy work for third-sector organizations as well as the public health sector in relation to gambling harms and has a long career in Information Technology.

Leanne Downie quit her job in the hospitality industry in 2018 and switched to the charity sector, where she started working for organizations aligned with her own ideas of helping others. Among them, we can name Crohn’s & Colitis UK charity, an organization that she is deeply connected to due to her own condition. Downie is currently Betknowmore UK’s head of support services. Another council member is Nicola Jacques, a project worker for the Six to Ten project and an employee of Beacon Counseling Trust whose husband’s gambling problem deeply influenced her emotional, financial, and physical state as well as the life of her family.

The Young Gamers & Gamblers Education Trust’s head of delivery Sam Starsmore is another council member. Starsmore is also a member of the Problem Gambling Support Group and he completed the Accredited Lived Experience Speaker training. This gave him a deeper understanding of how to share his own experience while generating the maximum impact.

Steph Shilton is another important member of the same council. She is the spouse of former England goalkeeper Peter Shilton who is now a recovering problem gambler. Steph was joined by Suhayl Patel, a worker for Beacon Counseling Trust and a recovered gambling addict, along with Jas Bindarh and an anonymous member who has been exposed to gambling during their childhood when different family members used to engage in gambling.

GambleAware started accepting applicants for the council’s membership in June. The organization is also busy creating a community of people willing to share their knowledge and lived experience of gambling harms and help inform its daily activities.

Just ahead of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, GambleAware launched a new campaign aimed at protecting British bettors from gambling harm and “bet regret.”

After finishing her master's in publishing and writing, Melanie began her career as an online editor for a large gaming blog and has now transitioned over towards the iGaming industry. She helps to ensure that our news pieces are written to the highest standard possible under the guidance of senior management.

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