On 27 June 2019, we were delighted to get involved in the first youth forum event of its kind in the UK.
Young people from across Wales met to discuss problem gambling.
The event, held at the Pierhead Building in Cardiff Bay, was organised by a number of stakeholders including the Living Room, Beat the Odds and The University of South Wales aimed to reach out to 13 and 15-year-olds on the dangers of gambling including how young people are often exposed to a number of promotions in the mass media, without even knowing it.
Organisers of the event the Living Room, Beat the Odds Initiative, Royal College of Psychiatrists Wales and the University of South Wales are already part of The National Assembly’s Cross-Party Group on problem gambling.
Currently, around 66 percent of 11 to 16-year-olds have seen gambling advertised, while 1.7 percent in the same age group are identified as “problem gamblers”.
And last year, the Chief Medical Officer for Wales identified problem gambling as a major public health risk.
The event was sponsored by Darren Millar AM and featured seminars from experts including Professor Samantha Thomas, (Associate Professor of Public Health at Deakin University, Melbourne), Marc Zarb-Cousin (Campaign for Fairer Gambling) and Gaelic Footballer Niall McNamee who spoke candidly about his own personal experience and journey. The day was full of interactive sessions and activities, all aimed to raise awareness for the young people in attendance.
Professor Keith Lloyd, former Chair of RCPsych Wales, said:
“Whilst recognising that gambling can be a source of enjoyment for some, it can lead to financial difficulty and harm, including anxiety, stress, depression, alcohol and substance misuse for others. Gambling does not just affect the individual; it can impact on their family, friends and wider society. That’s why we’re delighted to be involved with this event, raising awareness amongst young people.”
Wynford Ellis Owen, specialist counseling consultant to Living Room Cardiff & CAIS Ltd said:
“This is the first Youth Forum of its kind on gambling. Tackling the issue head on from an early age is a better approach than attempting to cure a problem later in life. If we listen to young people and give them a forum to talk they and us adults can learn a great deal. I hope the day will break new ground in looking at gambling policy with particular effect on its impact on young people in Wales.”
Dr Gareth Roderique-Davies, Associate Professor at the University of South Wales, added:
“There’s increasing evidence that young people are being targeted by gambling adverts and embedded promotions in their wider everyday activities such as gaming and sports. It’s important that young people are able to develop resilience to these pernicious messages."
We are keen to run further events. If you are interested in supporting future events, please contact Ollie John.