YGAM Trains Metropolitan Police

YGAM has joined forces with the Metropolitan Police Service to deliver valuable training to its Youth Engagement Team. Thanks to the charity’s program, police officers have been able to learn about how to recognize signs of gambling harms in young people.

Two police officers in a town centre.

Police officers that take part int YGAM’s program receive formal recognition. ©Fungaifoto/Pixabay

Improving Outreach

YGAM is the Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust. It is a national charity that works with young and vulnerable people to inform about gambling and gaming harms. It was founded in 2014 by Lee Willows and Anne and Keith Evans, all of whom have been directly impacted by problem gambling. By offering evidence-led education programs, YGAM aims to safeguard and build digital resilience amongst participants.

Now YGAM has collaborated with the Metropolitan Police Service to train its Youth Engagement Team to recognize and help prevent gambling and gaming harms in young people. This fresh initiative comes as part of the Police Service’s Youth Strategy, Engagement and Schools program. This program has been created to strengthen links between the police, schools and young people. Specially trained police officers discuss a variety of issues with pupils to support safety in communities.

Fifty MET officers have taken part in YGAM’s training program. The collaboration has provided a major boost for the charity’s outreach and will complement the existing work that the MET carries out with young people in London Boroughs. PS Paul Connolly, from the Metropolitan Police Service’s Youth Strategy, Engagement and Schools program has praised the collaboration. In a press release, he said:

“This training is part of an ongoing relationship between YGAM and the MET, building on training which was delivered earlier this year. This training is very well received by our police officers, enhancing their youth base roles working within primary, secondary schools and PRUs across London.”

Connolly went on to explain that the information relayed through the program has been useful in helping the police to better understand the impact of gambling on young people. Police officers can share YGAM’s vital resources with teachers and youth workers, as well as convey the information directly themselves. As YGAM’s workshop is accredited, participating police receive formal recognition for completing the program. Members of the MET who have already participated in YGAM’s training program have commended it. A Safer Schools Police Officer for Southwark said:

“I am a schools officer to three schools with approximately 4500 students. I thought this session from YGAM was excellent and one of the best training sessions I have ever had. I will be putting sessions together from these resources that I can deliver to the students. By having open discussions, it could open the door for students who are struggling in silence.”

More Resources for Parents

YGAM’s teaching programs are based on considered evidence and have been evaluated. However, even the best of educational resources is ineffective if outreach is poor. That’s why YGAM has worked hard to foster collaborations with different groups, such as the Metropolitan Police, to ensure that its information reaches those who need it most.

In August YGAM announced measures to improve its engagement with BAME communities. Following an evaluation carried out by Clearview Research, the charity received a number of recommendations on how it could engage more effectively with minority communities. These include creating learning materials that are culturally appropriate and that meet the needs of the communities they serve.

YGAM has also been focusing on digitizing its content, so that it can be accessed by more people. It has now made 90-minute online workshops available to any organization that works with young or vulnerable people. These workshops cover how to recognize signs of gambling harms and where to seek out the right support.

YGAM is currently working with another prominent charity, GamCare, to deliver the “Young People’s Gambling Harm Prevention Program”. This program is supported by members of the Betting and Gaming Council, the industry body that represents the UK’s casinos, betting shops and online operators.

According to research published by the Gambling Commission, which regulates the UK’s gambling industry, 37% of 11 to 16-year-olds in England and Scotland have gambled during the last year.

In July, YGAM also launched its online “Parent Hub” to provide families with information about gambling harms. The hub allows parents to safeguard their children from harms and offers guidance on how to establish a healthy online/offline balance.

The “Parent Hub” has been particularly useful for parents who have been homeschooling their children during the coronavirus lockdowns. This year’s restrictions on going out have resulted in many children spending more time online and playing digital games. With concerns over the addictiveness of loot boxes and in-game spending, YGAM’s resources are more important than ever. The hub was launched just before the summer holidays, but many parents will find it a useful resource to refer to over the Christmas holidays too.

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