In January 2018, Public Health England (Yorkshire and Humber) with Leeds City Council, organised a Problem Gambling Masterclass to share ideas and showcase activity. This masterclass was the start of further collaborative work across the region.
Following the Masterclass, Yorkshire and Humber’s Association of Directors of Public Health established a Harmful Gambling Working Group, initially chaired by the Leeds Director of Public Health (and now currently Greg Fell, Sheffield City Council). This provided an opportunity to share activities and learning on a range of topics relevant to gambling-related harm such as licensing, children and young people, migrants, students, gaming, and workplace health. The group has offered practical help to each other, shared campaign materials (e.g. Leeds ‘Beat the Odds’ campaign), and Joint Strategic Needs Assessment chapters (Sheffield, Hull, Calderdale). Doncaster Council facilitated joined up work on a local schools surveys, aiming for consistency of questions asked across the region.
In September 2019, the group published The Yorkshire and Humber Association of Directors of Public Health: Public Health Framework for Gambling Related Harm Reduction. This was designed to translate the Gambling Commission’s Measuring Gambling Related Harms: A framework for action into a public health framework of practical actions, providing a consistent approach to harm across the region.
The framework aspired to be workable for a diverse region which includes Core Cities, market towns, seaside towns, and rural areas. The Framework acknowledges the different starting points and different leadership priorities of local authorities. Some areas have strengths in Financial Inclusion, others in Licensing and Regulation, or Treatment, but the menu of themes and actions means most areas have an opportunity to develop and extend their activity to reduce gambling related harm.
This work is led by Public Health and unfortunately in 2020 the focus of necessity has been on the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the work of the group has continued and the work shared has included Health Impact Assessments on Gambling and Covid-19, Workplace Policies for supporting employees with harmful gambling, and insight and campaigns on young people, gambling and online gaming. A key focus in 2021 will be participating in the consultation for review of the Gambling Act 2005.
The group strongly welcomes the Royal Society for Public Health’s Gambling Health Alliance and looks forward to collaborating with this group in future. Our work so far as a region, with PHE and the Gambling Commission has shown we are stronger together and we are glad to build this alliance further on a national scale.