It’s not been long since my last update, however there’s still lots to tell you about, so I’ll dive straight in.
In October, more than 30 people harmed by gambling walked from Sheffield to Leeds in memory of Kimberly Wadsworth. The walk was due to take place in September but was postponed following the Queen’s death.
Walkers, including bereaved families, at Rotherham FC.
It was an incredibly powerful occasion and served as a timely reminder that change is urgently needed. Walkers, including bereaved families and people in recovery from gambling disorder, were joined by many MPs including Paul Blomfield, Clive Betts, Alex Sobel, and Gill Furniss, as well as Greg Fell, Director of Public Health in Sheffield.
Everyone was full of admiration for Kimberly’s mum, Kay, who led the walk and gave a moving speech about the need to counter stigma with positivity (below). We called at five football clubs: Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday, Barnsley, Rotherham United, and Leeds United, which was Kimberly’s team, where we released 32 balloons in her memory – one for every year of her life. As usual, the event received a lot of media coverage including from The Guardian, the BBC, and The Athletic.
Kay Wadsworth talks about stigma.
Earlier this month, Liz and I appeared alongside our Strategy Director Will Prochaska on the BBC Breakfast sofa. We spoke about the urgent need for reform and stressed that the over-inflated threat of the black market must not be used as an excuse not to make life-saving changes. The segment also featured a special report on football’s increasingly problematic relationship with gambling, featuring James Grimes, John Myers, Mark Palios of Tranmere Rovers, and Peter Shilton.
You can watch the report and interview below.
BBC Breakfast, 7th November.
You may have noticed players from several football clubs wearing yellow laces last month. They donned them in support of The Big Step’s campaign to end all gambling advertising in football. It was the first-ever time footballers have staged an on-field protest of this kind, so huge thanks go out to all the teams that took part in the campaign. You can read more about it here.
The Big Step's yellow laces campaign was supported by multiple clubs in the UK.
Special thanks to Rich, Smithy, Ricky, Adam, and Lewi, who cycled from London to Brighton earlier this year. They raised an amazing £4,000 for GwL in memory of their great friend Gaz. The last time they rode this route was with Gaz, six years ago. They were met by friends and family in Brighton, who cheered them over the finish line.
Gaz's family in friends in Brighton – well done all!
A quick note on the White Paper: after a hugely frustrating sequence of delays, we are now expecting publication before Christmas. As I write, newspapers have been carrying stories with leaks of what might be in the White Paper – the signs are not good. The stories indicate that it will not include a statutory levy and propose little to rein in gambling advertising and marketing.
That said, we will remain optimistic that the Secretary of State, Michelle Donelan, and Paul Scully, the Gambling Minister, will do the right thing and make the changes that are so urgently needed. We hope that they have listened to the previous Minister, Chris Philp, who oversaw the Review: he really considered the evidence and showed that he understood the scale of changes needed. The loss of his learning, insight, and commitment is a real blow and another consequence of the current turmoil at the top of government. I hope that I’ll be able to provide a full update and reflections on the White Paper in December’s newsletter.
I’ll end on a more positive note: our education film, which was produced by Pukka Films, won gold in the learning and development category at the Evcom London Film Awards last week. We hear lots of positive feedback from students who see the film as part of our education programme, so we are really pleased that the film was recognised in such an important category. You can watch the trailer below.
The trailer for our education film.
Thanks for reading and, as ever, thank you for your support.
Co-Chair of Trustees, Gambling with Lives