A new pilot programme is being launched to support families across Merseyside affected by gambling addiction by The Forward Trust.
The programme, called M-PACT Gambling, is being run by charity The Forward Trust with funding from GambleAware. Free to attend, the programme will run for 10 weeks and is open to families who have children aged eight to 17 and are based in the Liverpool city region, including Sefton, Wirral, Southport and St Helens.
The programme will be run out of The Brink, Forward’s community drug and alcohol service in Liverpool, as well as the UK’s first dry bar, which is located on Parr Street.
Andrew Greeney, Family Support Therapy Coordinator at The Forward Trust, said: “The programme will help children talk openly and safely about the effects of gambling, giving them a voice.
“We want to bring back that family unity and togetherness. Gambling addiction can be all-consuming, not just for those in active addiction themselves but also their loved ones, especially children. The family members often experience the ripple effect of addiction and need support themselves.
A recent NHS England report revealed that gambling addiction referrals are at a record-high, with 1,389 patients being referred for help last year, compared to 1,013 in 2021 and 775 in 2020.
M-PACT Gambling Facilitator Liza McGee, who runs the programme alongside Andrew, said: “We want to make sure we are reaching as many people as possible, which is why this programme is also open to extended family members too”, added Liza, “If siblings, aunties and uncles or grandparents want to come along too, they are more than welcome.”
A mixture of private and group sessions will make up the 10 sessions, which will run from 4.30pm to 8.30pm each week, as well as art therapy and role-play, with guidance being provided throughout.
Families who take part will also have any travel expenses covered, as well as a sit-down meal at every session, provided from the team at The Brink. A night of bowling will also be provided on the tenth session of the programme.
Service Manager at The Brink David Humphreys said: “Being able to provide families a sit-down meal at The Brink, some of whom may not have ever had a meal together, without the pressure and away from the hustle and bustle of every-day life is so important.
“While these sessions are focused on a serious subject, we hope that by providing a welcoming, safe environment can really make those who take part feel comfortable and have a home, away from home, even if it’s just for a few hours a week.
“It can sometimes be hard to believe that our venue, based in the heart of Liverpool’s bustling nightlife is a hub for support, but we have been here changing lives since 2011 and we will continue to do so.”
Applications are now open for the programme and participants who wish to sign up should please contact Andrew via email email@example.com or call 07442779541 or Liza via firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07585580651.