UK credit unions, along with national trade body Abcul, have joined GambleAware’s national campaign to reduce the stigma associated with gambling harms.
In the past couple of years, the sector has supported members in a number of ways to prevent them falling into debt due to gambling problems.
Data from GambleAware suggests that three quarters of those who experience problems with gambling do not feel able to open up to family and friends.
“Credit unions care deeply for their members, which is why we’re supporting the Gamble Aware campaign to reduce the stigma associated with gambling harms, and normalise seeking support when help is needed,” said Abcul CEO, Robert Kelly. “Many credit unions use open banking when determining the affordability of members who have applied for a loan.
“Thanks to the campaign resources, where open banking data may suggest a member is experiencing gambling harms, the credit union knows how to signpost the member towards support and engage with compassion. For some, this may be the first time they have been offered help with the effects of gambling, and every time this happens it not only helps that person but it reduces stigma one conversation at a time.”
Further research from Fuel Bank Foundation shows that some people in deprived areas used gambling as a last resort to pay for household bills that had become unaffordable.
“We know that the cost-of-living crisis has been incredibly hard for many,” said Kelly. “As credit union membership consistently increases in Britain, we hope that more people know that credit unions are a safe space to be supported”.
Zoë Osmond, CEO of GambleAware, said: “Gambling harms are hidden and complex in nature, making it incredibly hard to spot from the outside when someone may need help.
“Itis therefore critical that when accessing financial services, especially when due to the impact of gambling harms, people feel they can talk openly about the issues they may be experiencing and are made aware of the wide range of support services available.
“We are delighted to be partnering with Abcul as part of this campaign and look forward to working together to encourage people to open up about gambling harms and feeling safe to do so.”