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Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS), in partnership with GambleAware, provides the Gambling Support Service (GSS).

This project provides training for frontline workers to recognize when people are experiencing or at risk of gambling harms. Citizens Advice Bureaux in Scotland have received training, as has local authority staff, paramedics, police, and other services like housing, debt advice, and mental healthcare charities.

Kantar Public was commissioned by GambleAware to perform an independent evaluation. This would allow Kantar Public to examine the experiences of participants in the first two-years of the project and to capture lessons learned.

This evaluation analyzed the progress made in building capacities among workers across Scotland to advise and identify clients about gambling harms. There were over 2000 professionals who were trained, and 97% satisfaction among trainees.

Stigma was a barrier that prevented people from seeking help. The evaluation identified some resistance from frontline workers regarding asking questions to determine if gambling harm was being caused by their clients.

Advisors believe that there is a limited public awareness of the seriousness of gambling harm. There is also a stigma towards people who have suffered from gambling harm. This in turn decreases the number of people seeking advice.

The evaluation was recommended to reduce hesitancy among frontline workers and increase confidence to ask questions that will enable them to identify harms from gambling.

  • Clearer guidance for frontline workers to explain why gambling can be a problem to clients seeking help on a variety of issues. Also, how to incorporate questions that identify harm into conversations.
  • To encourage clients to have more open and natural conversations about gambling problems, and to reduce stigma.
  • Training to help with uncomfortable conversations about gambling harms.

GSS was a valued tool for helping clients and reducing gambling harm in Scotland, according to trainees. Frontline workers could offer advice, such as helping clients download blocking apps for gambling websites, and refer clients to the most appropriate support organizations.

GambleAware renewed the Gambling Support Service’s contract for three more years in 2022. Citizens Advice Scotland actively participated in the embedding of the learnings from the evaluation and exploring ways to decrease stigma.

Anna Hargrave is Chief Commissioning Officer at GambleAware. She stated: “This evaluation gives valuable insight into the potential improvements in a service that has been successful and highly effective.”

“We understand that discussing gambling can be difficult and that the training and tools provided were crucial in preparing frontline workers for conversations about gambling with clients.

Front-line workers should be able to identify harms and have sensitive conversations with clients. This will help reduce stigma.

Derek Mitchell, Chief Executive at Citizens Advice Scotland said that the network was proud to provide this vital service. It has trained over 2000 professionals how to recognize gambling-related harms.

“It is clear that stigma is a significant problem based on the feedback we receive. That is why the CAB network does not judge anyone’s background or circumstances when they seek help. We believe it is important that people seek out support as soon as possible.

It is simple: The sooner someone receives the support they require, the quicker they can address the problem. You can’t ignore problems and let them grow, or you can bury your head in the sand until they become overwhelming. People should not be ashamed or anxious about seeking out help. It is the first step towards solving their problems.

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