The UK’s National Gambling Helpline extended its operating hours on 1st October 2019 to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The helpline, which is operated by GamCare and funded by GambleAware is introducing this extension for a trial period to see if it is a success. This means that anyone who is struggling with gambling has access to help and support, any time of day, by contacting this helpline via freephone or online chat.
This extended service offering is likely to have been introduced because the number of problem gamblers in the UK is rising, with approximately 300,000 people in the UK displaying symptoms of a gambling problem. They also estimated that there was another 2 million that were at “moderate” risk of developing a more severe problem.
With these figures, the National Gambling Helpline would be looking to offer increasing amounts of support for these individuals. In 2018 GamCare received 30% more calls in four years, reaching the significant figure of 30,000. Now, with 24/7 availability, they will be hoping that they receive more calls and help anyone struggling to control their gambling habits.
It may be particularly significant that a helpline is available throughout the night and early hours of the morning as this is when people can feel most isolated. Having the knowledge that they can access support and speak to a trained advisor at any time may help individuals that are struggling to cope with their gambling. These advisors can offer support and discuss the issues they may be facing in complete confidence. They can also contact local support services if the individual wishes.
“Round the clock activity”
Anna Hemmings, CEO at GamCare, says: “It is important that treatment and support services reflect the availability of gambling.”
“With the 24-hour nature of gambling, people sometimes feel at their most isolated overnight, when other support services are closed. 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.”
Meanwhile, Helen Garratt, Director of Clinical Services said: “People can be trying hard to change their gambling, but the sheer availability of gambling options makes it a struggle. We hope that the new availability of the National Gambling HelpLine will be able to match this round-the-clock activity and offer even more support.”
Tim Miller, Executive Director at the Gambling Commission commented ont he importance of working with people who have experienced a gambling problem to provide the most useful and effective services for them.
“The pilot to extend the hours of the National Gambling Helpline is a very welcome step. GamCare’s specialist advisers are now there if people need support at any hour of the day. This change arose out of the input of people with lived experience into research and demonstrates why that continued input is vital.”