GambleAware: Diverse views crucial to strengthen treatment initiatives

GambleAware commissioned research undertaken by King’s College London has found that there is limited evidence that the voices of those who have lived experience of gambling harms are being heard.

The charity says that during workshop discussions, participants with lived experience highlighted a need to widen participation and engagement channels to a more diverse and representative group of people.

Key groups identified as having been underrepresented so far, and that should be engaged to ensure different views are heard and shared, includes women, people from minority ethnic communities, vulnerable adults and young people.

Marc Etches, CEO of GambleAware, commented: “GambleAware commissioned this research to better understand what engagement methods work best in order to successfully draw on the knowledge and expertise of those who have experienced gambling harms.  

“While the research suggests there is already some engagement with these groups, the report has highlighted a clear lack of reporting of such conversations. The findings have shown how important it is to capture the diverse range of views available to help improve and strengthen existing research, education and treatment and prevention initiatives, while making clear that any new representative network of people from the lived experience community would need to be entirely independent.”  

Researchers have suggested that the creation of a national, representative group, network or infrastructure could be a way to facilitate more involvement of those with lived experience.

Furthermore, those involved in the research also identified certain criteria they felt a new representative entity should adhere to, including being independent of influence from other organisations, being fully funded and providing a space for contributors to engage in conversations around policy change and priority setting.  

Caroline Norrie, research fellow at the Health and Social Care Workforce Unit at the Policy Institute at King’s College London, explained: “Our research identified a number of recommendations that organisations across the gambling industry could adopt to help strengthen and improve engagement with those who have first-hand experience of gambling harm. 

“We were also able to identify a clear set of requirements for any future forum or network to ensure participants had the right platform to share their experiences, discuss and engage in key policy and priority setting conversations. I look forward to seeing how these recommendations are taken forward across the industry.” 

In addition to the creation of a representative network of people with lived experience of gambling harms, researchers also identified several other recommendations that organisations, such as regulators, commissioners and gambling support services could adopt. These included: 

  • Regular review of activities to plan how to engage with those who have lived experience of gambling harm.
  • Consider recruitment options for those with lived experience to reach a diverse range of views. 
  • Provide opportunities for staff and trustees to engage with training on how to encourage and maintain regular engagement and involvement with those who have lived experience.  
  • Having community members with lived experience represented in the governance and infrastructure of organisations working with those communities, for example by having lived experience focal points assigned on staff or having seats on boards.