We’re part of a very active network of people and organisations looking to reduce gambling harms in Glasgow, Scotland and beyond. Very much centred on individuals and local communities, we provide sources of immediate support for people affected by gambling. We aim to raise awareness of how gambling damage is a public health issue. Specifically, we hope to raise awareness among health and social care providers, and local and national policy makers. At the community and individual level, we give examples of how the issue is being tackled, and how people can become involved and make a difference. The site also offers a birdseye view of the central debates about gambling and potential ill-health.
The stigma facing those of us who suffer mental and emotional distress is largely due to ignorance so providing knowledge, information and personal stories is a good way to tackle it. We look too at stigma itself and, as long as it remains, how we may cope with it.
We would like to stress that we are not ‘anti-gambling’. We seek only to explore ways to prevent and treat severe harms than can and do arise from the activity.
Our SUPPORT section gives immediate help to individuals but also contains links to important organisations for anyone with an interest in gambling and health.
Navigating the Site
There is lots to read or watch on this site, and thousands of demands on our time and attention. You may want only to check out sections of particular interest to yourself. You may need a sleep aid and browse the whole site! You may want to sign up for updates because the subjects here are of particular interest, or could be shared with colleagues, or could be a great way to add to your ‘Read Later’ folder.
We’ve tried to design the site so that each section begins with a bare bones summary of essential points. From there you can delve deeper into more detail where the words get longer.
So, on this page for instance, below is A Longer Bit.
The site is a work in progress and we are just ordinary guys, maybe with the web design skills of a five year old but seriously incompetent in matching the skills of an eight year old.
If you’re up for it we’d love your feedback including advice, and your news. We’d also greatly welcome contributions for our blog – your experiences, issue-based articles such as about young people, community activities, whatever you think.
A Longer Bit!
This site is produced by The Machine Zone which is a very small social enterprise that’s been running for four years mainly addressing digital gambling. Directors Martin and Adrian have recently been joined by Chris who is the founder of Chatter Scotland. We work closely with initiatives and partners in Scotland addressing gambling harms.
Originally we had intended to produce two films and materials to take out into community events for citizen engagement. We also had ready a drama project to be delivered at Barlinnie Prison, Glasgow. COVID has put a stop on that intention like so much else. Nevertheless, we intend to deliver these community projects in Greater Glasgow when conditions permit. We believe that both community engagement and the voices of those who have suffered severe damages from gambling are crucial. In the meantime, we offer this website.
Most of what you’ll find here is of relevance to communities anywhere in the world but we have specific sections looking at how Glasgow and Scotland are challenging the harms of gambling to individuals and communities. In our work, we’ve discovered that for many who work in the health and social care sectors gambling issues have not been realised as a significant issue; on the other hand, we found that there has been deep awareness and actions within parts of health and social care, city and community councils, public health, religious leaders, campaigners who have started charities or other organisations, teachers, politicians and more. It’s an ongoing and joint effort to raise awareness and aim to prevent gambling harms, to achieve local and national policy integration, to increase treatment and support provision for affected individuals, and to emphasise the importance of the voices of peope who have been harmed.
Our most central concerns are to offer immediately available support and to challenge stigma surrounding people in great distress because of gambling. We challenge stigma by raising awareness, giving information and knowledge, and by examining stigma itself. We also offer suggestions to anybody suffering from stigma because of any distress related to mental and emotional wellbeing.
We are acutely aware that most discussion of gambling has been historically and largely continues to be about a generalised population of ‘men’, and most of the discussion has been led by and from men. This, of course, is a reflection of culture and society. We have tried on this site to dismantle the big box concept of the population and see how within ‘the population’ are many different populations, and within them are smaller units and then unique individuals. It is a good start to state the obvious, that women form half of a nation’s population. In relation to this, the number of women running into gambling distress is increasing. Women face extra stigma – just as they do in relation to drugs and alcohol – and this can be a major factor in their not seeking support. Fortunately, there are growing examples of support organisations, research and the brave voices of women which challenge stereotypes, and we shall link to these. Other population sectors which do not ‘fit’ with standardised population include children. So, whereas the figures for the percentage of gamblers with serious distress in Britain range from 0.5% to 2.7%, for 11 – 16 year olds the figure is 1.9%. It should be noted importantly that the prevalence figures are under review and new measures of data gathering are in development. There are also the specific communities in what is labelled BAME (Black and ethnic minorities) populations which demonstrate levels and qualities of harms and stigma differing from broad stroke general population figures. It should be strongly noted here that the BAME label, like any label, is convenient for some but carries its own stigmatising potential which identifies individuals with the label, not with their individual uniqueness. There are very many other sectors of the general population which demand attention. For instance, there is a strong correlation between levels of gambling harms and citizens living in poor and disadvantaged communities; people with certain health conditions such as those diagnosed as ‘bipolar’ are more likely to run into gambling harms; a very recent report found that 23% of prisoners identified as having suffered gambling harm, and in fact 4% of them were in prison because of gambling.
We cover the above where possible across the site and in specific sections. We very much hope that as our project develops we will welcome contributions from all sectors of the population rather than just talking about them.