New support service launched for problem gamblers in Knowsley

Published on: Wednesday, 15-July-2015

A man from Knowsley who built up huge debts and lost his job wants other gamblers to learn from his experience.

Steven, 26, from Halewood started playing fruit machines in the pub where he worked. Before long he was spending his whole month’s wages on the machines.

He moved to a new job in a city centre hotel where he was earning more and getting large tips on top of his salary.

“Two years ago, I’d had a really good day at work and made large tips. I finished early and headed straight to the casino. I was there from 8pm to 6am and won £20,000. Yes £20,000! Now that’s a lot of money. It could pay your rent for a year, or more, pay for an extravagant holiday for a month to an exotic location or a new car. There’s so much you could do with that money but that’s not how I was thinking about the win.

“Three hours later I was back in work. I had £5,000 cash in my pocket. I went on a break and blew the lot in ten minutes. By the end of the week the whole £20,000 was gone.

“I had a problem but it took me another 12 months for me to realise it. By then I was unemployed, in debt up to my eyes and couldn’t pay my rent. My relationship with my family was in tatters and I couldn’t see a way out of my debt. I started thinking ‘should I be here?’

“It was then that I sent an email to Beacon. I asked them to help me. I wanted to get my life back after destroying everything around me.

“Twelve months on, I no longer gamble and I’m now the happiest I’ve ever been. I’ve just come back from a holiday in Turkey which I paid for myself. Now that feels good, to have the money to pay for a holiday. That’s a first for me.

“Now I want to stop others going down the same route. I really wouldn’t be here today without help from Beacon.”
Knowsley Public Health is backing the launch of a new, free, support service for individuals and families in the borough, who like Steven and his family, are affected by problem gambling.

Merseyside based counselling charity, The Beacon Counselling Trust, will provide specialist counselling on behalf of the national charity GamCare. Confidential appointments will be available in council run venues across Knowsley

Cllr Eddie Connor, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said:

“As Steven’s story shows us, problem gambling has a wide range of affects impacting on family life, relationships and employment, as well as financial implications.

“Anyone in Knowsley who is affected by problem gambling can access this new service. Crucially it’s not just for the gamblers themselves, family members affected by a problem gambler can seek advice and support from the service.

“The Council takes very seriously the issues gambling can cause. We’ve introduced a complete ban on any new betting shops in council owned shopping parades and took the decision earlier this year to limit the availability of online gambling sites through computers in our libraries, One Stop Shops, schools and WiFi access in public buildings such as leisure centres. Neither can our staff access these sites via council computers.

Neil Platt, Clinical Lead at Beacon Counselling said:

“You know it’s problem gambling when a person is spending more than they can afford, can’t choose whether they should or should not be gambling and it is affecting friends and family around them.

“There’s no stereotypical problem gambler, it affects all people of all ages and from all walks of life. The new free service in Knowsley will go a long way to help support those individuals who have this problem with their gambling behavior, or are affected by someone’s gambling behavior.

“Alongside therapy to treat their gambling addiction, service users will be provided with therapy to treat the underlying cause of the problem to help make sure theirs is a successful and long term recovery from their problematic gambling.”

FREE confidential appointments are available across Knowsley, call 07506 762949 or 0151 226 0696 for more details and to book an appointment. There is also a drop-in service available at 263 Townsend Lane, Liverpool L13 9DG and there’s no waiting list.