UK’s National Gambling Helpline to open 24 hours a day
GamCare, the UK-facing gambling support charity funded by GambleAware, has announced that its National Gambling Helpline is to extend its hours and operate 24 hours a day from October 1.
The helpline features a live chat and Freephone channel, with trained advisors providing callers with advice on gambling-related problems and connect them with local treatment services.
According to GamCare, the helpline received over 30,000 calls in 2018-19 and this figure is expected to increase, with the GB Gambling Commission estimating that there are around 340,000 problem gamblers in the UK and up to a further 2m at risk.
The 24-hour-a-day service will initially run as a pilot scheme and will likely be extended if this trial proves to be successful.
“With the 24-hour nature of gambling, people sometimes feel at their most isolated overnight, when other support services are closed,” GamCare chief executive Anna Hemmings said. “They will now be able to reach our highly trained advisers 24 hours a day, who can offer immediate support, advice and referral to our network of treatment services nationally.”
GambleAware chief executive Marc Etches added: “GambleAware is responsible for commissioning the National Gambling Helpline, which is a core element of an emerging National Gambling Treatment Service. Our priority is to keep people safe and to ensure support services are easily accessible. As such, we are pleased to be funding an extension to the helpline’s operating hours, and we will evaluate its performance over time.”
Earlier this month, the UK’s first gambling addiction service outside of London has launched, with problem gamblers now able to access care at a new facility in Leeds. The NHS service, run by Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (LYPFT), is being funded jointly by NHS England and GambleAware.
Last week, GambleAware also partnered the University of Bristol on a new research project examining how UK banks and other financial services organisations can help people suffering with or are at risk of gambling-related harm.