Tracey has worked in Medway’s Public Health team since 2009 and became a member of the GHA in September 2020. Her background in reducing health inequalities, particularly within the smoking cessation field, has inspired her to explore ways in which the public health team at Medway Council can work to reduce harm caused by gambling. She is a firm believer that a public health, whole systems approach to gambling is what is needed to raise awareness, reduce stigma, and ultimately reduce harm caused by gambling.
Tracey is now the programme manager for workforce development at Medway’s public health directorate. The workforce development team produce and deliver a range of training programmes to enhance the skills and knowledge amongst both the internal workforce, and external partners, equipping staff and residents in Medway to be able to have meaningful conversations about their health and wellbeing. Our existing ‘A Better Medway Champions’ programme offers regular masterclasses on various public health topics and is available to residents and staff in Medway. The team have begun work on producing a gambling harms masterclass, which will be launched later this year. This will look to cover the local picture, what the existing evidence tells us, the destructive impact to lives that gambling addiction can have, how to raise the conversation of problem gambling, and how to signpost effectively to local support services. This brings about an opportunity to involve guest speakers such as academics from local universities or specialists from addiction and mental health services.
We believe in a public health evidenced based approach to the issue and are considering a number of possible opportunities. In order to project an accurate picture, some primary insight work is required. To build upon the existing frameworks within Medway Council we will firstly need to assess the issue locally and potentially create a health needs assessment. Becoming part of a working group with other members of the GHA with the intention to develop a consistent approach to data gathering has been advantageous. Being able to gather local prevalence data will provide some essential direction when driving the agenda forward in Medway.
Being placed within the Local Authority gives Medway’s public health team ample opportunity to build upon existing policy as well as share information and resource with colleagues and partners. We can utilise our already well-established links with the licensing team for example; to gain insight into the spread of gambling outlets throughout the Medway towns. Medway Council already has a keen interest in this topic, and local MP’s have campaigned for more protection for vulnerable people from the potential harms that gambling can cause.
In the role of workforce development programme manager, Tracey is able to collaborate with her public health team members in order to educate and support the wider workforce. For example, joint working with the child health programme manager and the mental health promotion specialist allows for greater opportunities to create joint campaigns, raise awareness and disseminate vital information regarding gambling related harm.
As this project is very much in its infancy, we would welcome any questions or comments. Please send enquiries directly to [email protected]