Details from the Gambling Harms and Homelessness networking event on 20 Jan

February 22, 2023

Our first networking event in partnership with Simon Community Scotland brought individuals working in the gambling harms and homelessness sectors together.

You can view highlights from the day in the video below.


Throughout the event different speakers brought their expertise to build a picture around the intersectionality of gambling harms and homelessness.

  • Adrian Bailey and Martin Paterson (The Machine Zone)

    Adrian shared his background in working in an Addiction Recovery Centre, while Martin shared his personal story around gambling disorder. Together they created The Machine Zone, a community interest group, which previously campaigned to reduce the maximum stake in FOBTs. Recently, they created a documentary called One Last Spin, showcasing the harms caused by gambling through stories of lived experienced. This documentary, which addressed the stigma and impacts around this topic, was screened at the event.

  • Lorraine McGrath (Simon Community Scotland)

    Lorraine set the scene by speaking about the work Simon Community Scotland does in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Lanarkshire. She explained how the partnership with Fast Forward was borne out of a conversation around wanting ‘to understand more about consequences of gambling related to the risk of homelessness.’ Out of this partnership they hope ‘to create bespoke training surrounding people experiencing homelessness and gambling harm for professionals, speak to the people [they] support to examine the scope and prevalence of gambling harms and [aim] to create specific and tailored pathways for women affected by gambling harms.’

  • Allie Cherry Byrnes (Fast Forward)

    Allie shared the history of Fast Forward and how the Scottish Gambling Education Hub came to be in 2018. She outlined the importance of having conversations, making connections and staying curious leading to this partnership with Simon Community Scotland since July 2022. Thereafter, she introduced Lauren Heaney who will be leading on the project, with support from Gamble Aware on evaluations.

  • Dr Steve Sharman (Kings College London)

    Dr Sharman presented his research around homelessness and gambling in England. He found that of those experiencing disordered gambling most of them struggled with gambling prior to homelessness. However almost 1 in 5 individuals (17.6%) developed harmful gambling after homelessness. As a result of his research, Dr Sharman and his team produced a gambling harms screening tool which they are happy to share with others.

  • Ronnie Cowan (MP Inverclyde)

    Ronnie communicated his interest in supporting communities in gaining services around addiction. He highlighted the ever-increasing levels of gambling advertising and that the government is unlikely to see the harm due to the monetary benefits in terms of taxation. In the end, he shared that MPs across party lines are pushing for a levy in place of the optional donation model. This hopeful attempt would provide guaranteed funding for research and education around preventing harmful gambling practices.

  • Fay Laidler (University of Glasgow)

    Fay shared her story of lived experience as both an affected other and as someone who experienced harmful gambling due to a mix of unresolved mental health issues and an increase in alcohol usage. She hopes that her research will affect change in policy and support women with lived experience as their stories are less heard.

  • Professor Gerda Reith (University of Glasgow)

    Professor Reith contextualised the depth of gambling harms by estimating its costs in both England and Scotland, looking at the average amount of depth, investigating the percentage of relationship breakdowns, and sharing stats of higher levels of suicide amongst those experiencing gambling harms. She also explained why areas of social deprivation might experience more gambling harms.

The event ended with a discussion around building authentic partnerships, creating safe spaces for those with lived experience of gambling harms, and challenging the stigma facilitated by Louise from Simon Community Scotland via a Lego Serious Play session.

If you are interested in this project and would like to get involved please contact Lauren Heaney.

Simon Community Scotland.
Winter Campaign 2022


Simon Community Scotland.


More info from:
Murray Easton 
Head of Fundraising & Communications 
T - 07796 349 739 
E -  

Simon Community Scotland
472 Ballater Street
G5 0QW

Julie Alleyn
Volunteer Service Lead 
The Access Hub, 
389 Argyle Street, 
Glasgow. G2 8LR 
Office: 0141 418 6980
Mobile: 07508 755032

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Iain McLean,
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