Homelessness and Gambling Harm Toolkit – free resources

My name is Lauren and I am the Policy and Practice Lead for Gambling Harm at Simon Community. I have been researching gambling harm within our services for the past 14 months and working with organisations across the UK to share learning on how to support people experiencing gambling harm. 

Last year, we were funded by Gamble Aware to: 

  • Analyse the scope and prevalence of gambling harm within our services 
  • Raise awareness and reduce stigma of gambling harm with staff and people we support 
  • Start to create tailored pathways of support for women 
  • Create free resources for staff supporting people at risk of or experiencing homelessness or insecure housing 

1 in 5 people who experience homelessness also experience gambling harm. 

The relationship between gambling and homelessness might seem obvious, however, very little work has been done to look at this in Scotland. Gambling is rarely mentioned when discussing homelessness, even though it can contribute to relationship and family breakdowns, rent and bill arrears, domestic violence, debt and deteriorating mental health – all of which can lead to someone being asked to leave their accommodation.

We partnered with Fast Forward to create free resources for staff across Scotland who support people at risk of or experiencing homelessness or insecure housing. 

Our Homelessness and Gambling Harm E-Learning can be completed in separate sittings and provides a comprehensive overview of the links between gambling harm and homelessness. 

Our Homelessness and Gambling Harm Toolkit provides practical resources for staff to start and engage people in conversations about gambling, how to create a support plan with someone who is experiencing gambling harm and information on how the gambling industry operates. 

My main takeaway from the last year is hearing what someone we support said in regard to their gambling: 

“At one point 90% of my money was going on gambling. Nothing good comes of it. I lost everything. And no-one knew, because no-one asked.”

For me, the most important thing that could come out of these resources is that staff start proactively asking people about gambling, understand what gambling harm is and how to have an engaged conversation with someone they are supporting about gambling, the gambling industry and the potential harms associated with gambling. 

Gambling can prolong someone’s experience and exit out of homelessness. It is silent, it can take place online or in person and it can be truly debilitating for a person. People who are dependent on alcohol never try to drink their way out of their harm, but someone who is experiencing gambling harm may try to gamble their way out of their harm. 

These resources equip staff with the tools they need to become knowledgeable about the links between gambling harm and homelessness and instil confidence so that people have the confidence to ask this introductory question- 

  • Is your own gambling or that of someone else causing you any worries? 

What have you got to lose by asking? 

If someone you are supporting is looking for support or a chat with someone about their gambling they can pop into one of our Gambling Harm Drop In Clinics which are facilitated by The RCA Trust. You don’t need an appointment and you can pop in for a chat, a biscuit or to organise treatment for yourself or someone else who is experiencing or affected by gambling harm. The team are lovely, welcoming and non-judgemental you can find them in: 

Glasgow, Access Hub (357 Argyle Street, Glasgow, G2 8LR) 

First Tuesday of every month 11 am – 1 pm 

Edinburgh Hub (22 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, EH8 8AF) 11 am – 1 pm

Streetreads (25 Nicholson Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9BX) 2 pm – 4 pm

Second Wednesday of every month 

We will also be opening Scotland’s first and only space dedicated to women who are affected by or experiencing gambling harm in our Connect Hub in the Spring of 2024. More details to follow! 

If you want to talk further about Gambling Harm and Homelessness, please contact Lauren here