Guest blog: Erika from Home-Start Orkney on including gambling in their work

December 1, 2022

In this blog, Erika Copland from Home-Start Orkney shares their journey towards including gambling in their work.

Having attended an online training session during lockdown in regards to families and the impact gambling could have on parents and children, I realised that this was not something which we at Home-Start Orkney routinely asked or talked to families about when visiting them.

Keen to rectify this, I realised that it was firstly important to ensure all the other members of the staff team, who are responsible for overseeing family support, also attend the training, and they did so.  They too agreed that this ‘hidden harm’ was something which wasn’t overly highlighted within our organisation, and that it was something which should be discussed, along with issues such as alcohol consumption, domestic abuse and other areas.

We amended our paperwork, which includes prompts to remind staff to ask about certain issues, to include asking about gambling, and if this was something which anybody in the family did, if it is an issue and leading to wider discussion.

Having undertaken the training from Fast Forward, the team were more confident in applying the question to parents and have had discussions regarding the National Lottery (“just a fiver a week” – highlighting how this adds up over a year and other impacts) and online gaming.

During the online training, we were all equally horrified at the long-term impact that online gaming can potentially have on young children, as they progress through their childhood, teenage years and into adulthood: this really caused us to stop and think.  We sent out information to families following our own training, but are aware that we could be doing more to help inform.

In short, we have made small changes to our work practice, but ones that could have a positive, long-term impact for those whom we support.  But we could be doing more and will consider doing so: and our first port of call will be the resources provided by Fast Forward.