The end of September sees us complete the first half of our financial year at Gordon Moody Association (GMA). The past six months has seen us, as it has for so many organisations, facing unprecedented challenges because of Covid-19.
It has been a tremendously unsettling time for our service users, whether they are reaching out to us for the first time and applying for treatment, currently receiving treatment through our residential or retreat programmes, or in recovery and working with us through our outreach programme.
It has also been a difficult time for all colleagues.
Those working on the frontline providing treatment have had to change the way they work and ensure our services are a safe environment for all. Previously office-based colleagues have had to make the transition to working at home. Those delivering retreat programmes have created an online model to ensure those most in need can receive treatment and not suffer in isolation.
And as a leadership team we have worked to ensure that we are inclusive and working as a team. The positive news is that we are now in a position where our services are open and accepting residents in newly (or soon to be) refurbished premises.
There is also pre-support available to all our applicants to help meet increasing demand (applications rose 30% in Q2 compared to Q1), and we are continuing to deliver increased numbers of online groups, one to one and mindfulness sessions to men and women in recovery, as well as the family and friends of our service users.
We were especially proud to see our first resident complete treatment following the Covid lockdown.
These have been “hard-won yards” of progress for GMA, and we are all aware of the terrible human cost of Covid with the grim milestone of one million worldwide fatalities being passed recently.
At the same time, the long-term issues arising in mental health, financial pressures and physical health concerns are very apparent and real in the applications we receive. The calls we get from those in crisis continue to consist of increasing severity.
We are indeed on the long road of recovery and it is important to know that if you are in need of help with gambling issues, we are there to help.
To apply for treatment at Gordon Moody visit www.gordonmoody.org.uk or for more information call us on 01384 241292.
The National Gambling Helpline is available 24/7 call free on 0808 802 0133
Quarter 2 has seen a huge growth in demand for the digital and online services that we offer.
Because our retreat facility has been unavailable, our Retreat and Counselling team have set up an online version of the programme so those needing support can still access treatment.
These programmes have been really successful, and the team are currently working with their second online cohort of women and first online cohort for men. Overall, during the second quarter we saw an increase of 40% in applications; counselling sessions have increased by 238% and group sessions grown by 114%.
Our international helpline, Gambling Therapy has seen hits to its website jump by 33% – totaling over 1.2million for the quarter with calls to the helpline up by more than 25%.
And we must recognise the tremendous effort by all involved to meet this demand – going way above and beyond.
Gambling during Lockdown
There has been much speculation about possible gambling behavior and trends during lockdown.
We can see the media is increasingly interested, and approaching us here at Gordon Moody to see if there are more people betting online; what was the impact of the loss of live sport; and most importantly would more people experience gambling harm?
There are answers to some of these questions in the latest consumer statistics from the Gambling Commission https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/news-action-and-statistics/news/2020/Data-shows-the-impact-of-Covid-19-on-gambling-behaviour-in-August-2020.aspx
Overall, there has been a slight drop in the level of gambling overall, and it is encouraging to see the level of safer gambling interactions has continued to grow (up 11% in August).
It is really important that operators continue their focus on player protection. As we have already mentioned we are in the early stages of a long road of recovery, and our experience is that many applicants to Gordon Moody are mentioning that their gambling during Covid has become more problematic and this is something we need to keep a watchful eye on.
Speaking as part of a panel at the recent KnowNow “Responsible Marketing for Gambling Operators” conference, GMA head of Growth Rob Mabbett spoke about the need for gambling operators to “get the tone right” and not be “tone deaf” to the fact that the public was feeling exceptionally fragile at this time and potentially more vulnerable than they have ever been before.
In response to a question “Why are we still talking about gambling advertising?”, Rob explained that that “as with betting there is an increased exposure to advertising through more channels. It is now a 24/7 culture though digital platforms and social media which in themselves can be addictive.
“I’d argue that the industry needs to be more sensitive in its current approach, which can often be very transactional and one-sided, and instead work on a more supportive relationship with the consumer , rather than just pushing the ‘feelgood factor’ of gambling more and winning more, which we all know doesn’t happen that often.”
Our Gambling Therapy manager Paul Dent featured in SBC news recently with a 2-part series on the concept of harm and how working in collaboration can help to reduce gambling harm, you can read the articles here.
Fans of TV soap Emmerdale will have seen that they are currently running a storyline about one of the characters – Paul – having a gambling addiction.
Well done to them for tackling the subject. And by all accounts the acting and portrayal of the issue is very real and winning plaudits.
This is one step in bringing out the ‘hidden addiction’ to a wider audience, but I hope it’s followed up by more coverage elsewhere leading to a much bigger national conversation on the issues of stigma and how to tackle problem gambling.