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Leading gambling addiction services unite to offer more help for those struggling this Christmas

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

•TalkBanStop campaign launches as a 12-month pilot to offer three free tools to help people stop gambling – support via GamCare’s National Gambling Helpline, Gamban blocking software and GAMSTOP self-exclusion. •Christmas can be a tough time for people struggling to control their gambling – the pandemic has also increased common risks of isolation and money worries, but finding help is easier than ever before •Former gambling addict and successful footballer Michael Chopra in conversation with fellow ex-gambler to highlight how recovery journey starts Online gamblers struggling to control their gambling this Christmas are being offered a trio of services for free to help kick-start their recovery journey. The TalkBanStop campaign is backed by ex-footballer and recovering gambling addict Michael Chopra. The Christmas period poses a heightened risk to those struggling with gambling, and GamCare warns that the pandemic has only increased common risk factors including isolation, boredom or money worries. It’s good to talk In a new film, ex-Footballer Michael Chopra, 36, spoke with Chris Gilham, 39, about their shared experiences of gambling addiction and what gave them hope on their recovery journey. Both men fall into the 35-44 age range, which has the highest proportion of people who gamble online. During the discussion, Michael Chopra spoke of the peer to peer support he received from a former manager. He said: “I never ever let anything get in the way of my football but as soon as the whistle went, my mind just suddenly changed and all of a sudden I was thinking about gambling. “Then I decided to speak to Roy Keane, he was brilliant. He really took his time to speak to me and took time out of training. It was Roy that really got me the help that I needed. “There is light at the end of the tunnel. When you’re going through a dark phase you don’t think that. If you’re struggling like I was and need support, head to” On starting his recovery journey, Chris Gilham added: “. It wasn’t until my mum said to me ‘he’s ready’ and that it really struck me as she knew I was ready. Until I was ready, it wasn’t going to change. “I was then able to tell my wife that I needed help and I that was going to change. That was over three years ago and I haven’t gambled since that day.” Giving space for hope The 12-month pilot will highlight the benefits of combining free support and practical tools in helping people to stop gambling. The three key steps and supporting tools are: •Talk: By speaking to one of GamCare’s trained advisers on the National Gambling Helpline (over the phone or via live chat), gamblers and their loved ones can access expert information, advice and support, including arranging access to peer-to-peer support or an NHS referral if appropriate. •Ban: Gamban’s software blocks access to thousands of global gambling sites and apps, and can be installed on up to 15 devices - including those in the household. This would usually cost £24.99 per year, and is now being offered free to anyone contacting the Helpline. •Stop: GAMSTOP self-exclusion prevents access and creation of new gambling accounts with all online gambling operators across the UK, free of charge. Users will also stop receiving marketing messages from gambling businesses. The TalkBanStop web address will take users straight to where they can contact each service, as well as offering additional tips on how to block gambling through banks. Anna Hemmings, CEO at GamCare, says: “After a particularly challenging year when many have been impacted by job losses and reduced income, Christmas can be a difficult time for those struggling to stop gambling. The TalkBanStop. campaign sends a message of hope to those who are struggling with gambling but don’t know how to start their recovery journey, by providing free tools and support that give breathing space to reflect on what’s going on. The first step is simply talking to someone. There is support out there to help you make empowered choices about your recovery, and we urge anyone suffering in silence to be inspired by Michael and Chris. They show it can happen to anyone, but if they can get through it, so can you.” Neil McArthur, Gambling Commission CEO, said: “Christmas can be a challenging time for those experiencing gambling related harm so we are particularly pleased with this collaborative approach to offer joined up and comprehensive services to consumers. “We are also happy to approve funding of the blocking software pilot and evaluation element of this work through the distribution of regulatory settlement money to properly identify what works.” With just one call, gamblers will be helped on their road to recovery. These three services working together will offer greater protection to those who want to stop gambling, as well as giving gamblers the space to reflect and concentrate on their recovery over the Christmas period, with specialist support.

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