Couple’s charity supporting younger problem gamblers following death of son
Anne Evans from Doncaster lost her son Alan in 2010 after he ended his life due to gambling addiction.
Alan had been a gambler since his late teens in the 1980s starting with what seemed a harmless past time playing the fruit machines. His parents didn’t know Alan’s gambling was a problem and so when he started to have money troubles they helped him out.
Further financial insecurity and gambling led to Alan separating from his partner and family. Anne and her husband, Tom, were still trying to support Alan and continued to help with his bills.
In the 1990s Alan lived with his grandfather and, after his death, stayed in the house. But even though he was living rent free debts were still mounting. Eventually Alan told his parents the extent of his financial difficulties. Anne and Tom were ashamed and couldn’t tell anyone, they didn’t know how to help Alan stop gambling, but again managed to find the money to pay his debts.
They kept trying to patch up the cracks and bring things back to normal, but despite Alan’s promises he could not stop gambling. It was a very difficult time, with family bereavements and tensions. Tom died in 2007 and Alan, now in his 40s, was running a café – using the profits to bet in the bookies next door. In 2010 Alan committed suicide.
In 2012 Anne re-married very happily and she and her husband Keith tried all avenues for help for people in the same situation.
Anne said: “At that time no one spoke about gambling. There was nothing out about it being a problem. I soon realised there was no support or help for families like mine.
“It’s a silent addiction which can remain a secret until it’s too late. Gambling addiction was not classed as a national medical issue and no treatment was available like it is for other addictions.
“As a result, my husband and I helped to found a thriving charity called the Young Gamers & Gamblers Education Trust. It works to inform and educate young people and those who work with them about the facts and dangers of gambling and gaming and how to gamble responsibly.
“It’s fantastic that we’re getting an NHS service for the north of England – it can’t come soon enough to help individuals and families deal with the impact this addiction has. We’ve got to start talking about it – get it out in the open, don’t hide it, don’t feel ashamed.”
The Young Gamers & Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM) is a UK-registered charity with a social purpose to ‘inform, educate and safeguard young people against problematic gambling & social gaming’. Visit www.ygam.org.
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