A new training programme, the first of its kind in the UK, has been delivered to staff at the University of Birmingham to provide insight into the world of gaming and gambling related harms amongst students.

The Gambling and Gaming Awareness course, delivered directly by the Young Gamers & Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM), has been adopted to form part of the Wellbeing Development Programme at the University of Birmingham. The course provides staff with an insight and understanding of both gambling and gaming and explores, by using research and data, the associated risks that young adults are vulnerable to. The training, which also teaches university staff to spot the signs of students who may be struggling, was delivered to the University of Birmingham as a first step in YGAM’s plans to roll out this programme and offer this training to universities across the UK.

Research published by YGAM in 2019 showed that 264,000 students are at some risk of gambling-related harm in the UK with around 88,000 already defined as problem gamblers. The charity has warned that the drastic change to student life this year could increase the risks of students experiencing harms due to isolation, mental health and anxiety.

Pete Woodward, head of YGAM’s University and Student Engagement Programme, delivered the new training to staff at the University of Birmingham over two separate well-attended sessions. Following the training, Mr Woodward said: “I am so pleased that the University of Birmingham were able to help us kickstart this exciting new journey, where we will see this first-of-its-kind training offered to university staff across the country. The team were engaged and genuinely interested throughout and I am confident that now they have the knowledge, understanding and resources to support their students, the university will become a shining example of an institution that takes both gaming and gambling related harms and the welfare of its students seriously.”

James Mason, Student Wellbeing and Partnerships Officer at the University of Birmingham, said: “The session delivered by YGAM was highly interactive and engaging and allowed the delegates the opportunity to discuss the subjects in a safe and secure setting with lots of opportunities to ask questions and talk about real life examples, which all made for a really enjoyable and informative course. We have received lots of positive feedback from colleagues who attended the sessions.”

One of the university’s staff members who took part in the training, Vanessa Neal, Customer Service Manager for Student Accommodation, said: “I attended the Gambling and Gaming Awareness training virtually, alongside some of my colleagues in the accommodation management team. YGAM’s course made me think about a number of issues surrounding gambling and gaming that I had never considered before, and I would now approach some issues differently as a result. The course content was varied and very interesting and I now feel that I would be more comfortable and confident in discussing either topic with a student if I felt it was a factor in the issue I was dealing with.”

The training has been delivered to over 50 key members of staff responsible for supporting the mental health and wellbeing of the student population at the University of Birmingham. As YGAM continues to roll out its training nationwide, other universities interested in accessing the free training and resources are encouraged to contact Pete Woodward on pete@ygam.org

YGAM also provides free training to schools, teachers, youth workers and other organisations working with young people. To find out more about YGAM’s programmes please visit www.ygam.org