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7th Dec 2022 Joe Williams

GambleAware launches Lived Experience Council

The Council builds on GambleAware’s commitment to ensuring those who have lived experienced of gambling harms to inform its day-to-day work

New ‘Lived Experience Council’ to provide essential guidance on GambleAware’s strategy

GambleAware is delighted to launch its new Lived Experience Council (LEC) which will play a pivotal role in shaping its short and long-term future plans. The Council is comprised entirely of people with lived experience of gambling harms, including those who have been affected by others people’s gambling,

The Council met for their first session last week (Friday 2 December), during which they elected a new Chair and to provide expert advice to GambleAware’s activities, programmes and strategic development.

The Lived Experience Council builds on GambleAware’s commitment to ensuring its approach is collaborative and best placed to support the communities most in need. 

Zoë Osmond, GambleAware Chief Executive, said: “Our new Council is further evidence of our proud commitment to engage with the gambling harms community. With the imminent publication of the White Paper, and subsequent regulatory reform, this is a crucial time for GambleAware’s strategic development. It’s imperative that the voices of those with experience and expertise in this public health crisis guide our future path. 

“My heartfelt thanks to our new Council members, and we look forward to working with you all on our mission to prevent and tackle gambling harms.”

The Lived Experience Council currently comprises of 10 members. The term of office is two years and it can be renewed once.

Council members include:

Ben Howard (Chair)

Ben currently volunteers as a peer supporter helping others in recovery. He’s passionate about tackling gambling stigma and raising awareness of gambling harms. He’s currently studying to become a qualified counsellor. 

He has been involved in tackling gambling stigma research, as well as focus groups for workplace training, LGBT community, and has been involved with BBC for a file on 4 radio around the criminal justice system.  
 
David Quinti

Having been in recovery for 7 years, David wants to be a positive voice to raise awareness of how gambling can affect all people, regardless of their background.  His lived experience has been a key factor driving forward his desire and confidence to support others and to tackle the stigma associated with gambling harms.  

He’s a founding member and Trustee of the GLEN network. This role has enabled David to strengthen his understanding of governance, communications strategy and of the wider sector. 

LEC Member

This Council member was exposed to gambling during her childhood as various family members used to gamble. Having moved to a children’s home at the age of 15, she started gambling has a coping mechanism when feeling lonely. As an adult, she is dedicated to supporting other women who are experiencing gambling harms. Particularly, she's passionate about sharing her story to help raise awareness of the support services available for women. 
  
Leanne Downie

Leanne describes herself as a people person and has always been in roles where she’s able to help others. She used to work in hospitality until 2018, when she decided to move into the charity sector, in order to work for organisations that align with her values as well as her passion of helping others.  

She worked for Crohn’s & Colitis UK charity, which is very close to her heart due to her own condition. She currently works for Betknowmore UK as a Head of Support Services. 

Mark Conway

Mark is a founding member of GLEN and he undertakes consultancy work for public health and third sector organisations in relation to gambling harms. Following a lengthy career in Information Technology, he now uses his own lived experiences to support others in addressing gambling harms.  

He is a strong advocate for placing the voices and knowledge of lived experience at the forefront of developing strategies that are central to the prevention and reduction of gambling harms. 

Nicola Jaques

Nicola is a project worker for the Six to Ten project (ARA – BCT and DrugFam pilot) and an employee of Beacon Counselling Trust (BCT). She also has previous work experience within media. 

Her husband’s gambling had a profound financial, emotional and physical impact on her and her family, which later encouraged her to gain better understanding of gambling disorder and build networks with those working towards safer gambling practices. 

She has been involved in peer research for the women, gambling and crime study commissioned by the Howard League. Nicola has also delivered safer gambling programmes under Beacon's education programme. 

Sam Starsmore

Sam is Head of Delivery (Education) at the Young Gamers & Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM) and a member of the Problem Gambling Support Group. This group brings together over 100 people worldwide, who come together daily to share experiences, strength and hope to recover from the harms of gambling.   

Sam completed the Accredited Lived Experience Speaker training, which allowed him to understand how to share his lived experience with the maximum impact. Collaborating with individuals affected by gambling harms is something he is passionate about to prevent future harms. 
 
Steph Shilton

Steph worked for several years as a senior manager in the National Health Service. She’s a qualified therapist and currently works as an ambassador raising awareness of gambling addiction.  

Over the past few years, she has contributed to supporting the government in reducing gambling harms. She has also spoken numerous times at national level regarding her experience of living with a partner suffering from a gambling addiction.  
 
Suhayl Patel
  
Suhayl works for Beacon Counselling Trust. Prior to that, he worked as a teacher.  

Having recovered from his gambling addiction with the support of the NGTS, he’s now passionate about sharing his lived experience with the Muslim community, to help tackle stigma and isolation.   

Jas Bindarh

Alongside establishing its new Lived Experience Council, GambleAware is also building a community of individuals who are willing to share their experience and knowledge of gambling harms to inform its day-to-day work.

To find out more about being part of GambleAware’s wider lived experience community, please read this information pack. To apply please complete this registration form.