New partnership to tackle gambling harms in the borough

Published Tuesday 19 December 2023 at 9:36

Blackburn with Darwen Council’s Public Health has joined forces with the University of Glasgow and the University of Sheffield to research and assess Gambling Related Harms (GRH).

This research, called a needs assessment, will focus on the Blackburn with Darwen population as a whole. Recent research published by the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities suggests that about 5,000 people in Blackburn with Darwen would benefit from support or treatment for gambling harms

The needs assessment will have a specific focus on people accessing drug and alcohol services, women, ethnic minority communities, people experiencing inequalities and young people.

Over a 12 month period the needs assessment will help us to enhance our understanding of gambling and how many people it is affecting in Blackburn with Darwen, identifying the impact and harms to individuals and others.

The key objectives of the needs assessment are to understand:

  • What is the prevalence of gambling and gambling-related harm in Blackburn with Darwen by socio-demographic characteristics and geographical distribution?
  • What are the determinants (risk factors) of gambling and harmful gambling?
  • What are the harms to individuals, families, communities, and wider societal harms associated with harmful gambling?
  • What is the social and economic burden of gambling-related harms?
  • What are the barriers to accessing treatment where gambling related harms are clearly identified and acknowledged?
  • What are stakeholder views on gambling-related harms in Blackburn with Darwen?

There are already multiple projects going on in the borough to support people affected by gambling:

  • Delivering Brief Intervention and Level 2 Accredited Gambling Related Harms training to over 100 practitioners in BwD.
  • We have 19 Champions who have completed the Communities in Charge of Gambling Training Programme (Level 2 Accredited).
  • There is a Gambling Related Harms Forum, chaired by Public Health along with partner organisations, that meets four times a year.
  • Referral pathways in place to support people and families experiencing gambling related harms.
  • We are placing a role in the drug and alcohol service to screen, assess and refer people for support who need help with gambling related harms.

The needs assessment project will be delivered through two phases. First, a desk-based review of statistics and ways of working will be carried out to provide an up-to-date evaluation of Blackburn with Darwen’s current gambling harms.

In phase two, findings from this review will be shared and developed with key stakeholders from across Blackburn with Darwen to make sure people on the frontline of the issue can share their valuable knowledge and help to make a difference.

Damian Talbot, Blackburn with Darwen’s Executive member for Public Health, Prevention and Wellbeing, said:

This new research will give our Public Health teams a much greater understanding of gambling and gambling harms – understanding impacts, preventing harm and intervening early.

The harms around gambling, including the effect it has on the individual, the family, loved ones and friends, costs a great deal to our communities – both financially and in terms of emotion and physical stress and healthcare as well.

This research and assessment will shine a light on the issues and hopefully give us an opportunity to increase investment into this area to make sure we have the essential support many people affected by gambling harms.”

The University of Glasgow’s Dr, Christopher Bunn, who will lead the project with Prof. Heather Wardle, said:

We are excited to support Blackburn with Darwen as they begin their journey of understanding and responding to the gambling harms present in their area.

With recent estimates suggesting that nearly 1.6 million people in England who participate in harmful gambling would benefit from treatment or support, this is a timely investment in research that will inform the provision of support for an underserved group.”

Dr. Rob Pryce from the University of Sheffield said:

I’m excited to be undertaking this work in partnership with Blackburn and Darwen Council and the University of Glasgow. I know from previous work on local estimates of alcohol dependence how important this type of work is, and it is great to be involved in such impactful work.”


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