The Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM) received the backing of the National Union of Students (NUS) following the launch of its Student Hub resource earlier this week.
The resource,’ developed for students by students,’ will help prevent students from suffering gambling-related harm by providing them with data and support.
In order to further highlight the real issues of gambling and gaming damage on university campuses, the website will feature interactive elements along with lived-experience case studies. The Student Hub, which takes place in November, will sit alongside other instruments such as GAMSTOP and Safer Gambling Week.
A NUS spokesperson commented: “From previous research conducted by NUS, we know that tens of thousands of students each year are using their loans to gamble in a bid to top up their funds, with many ending up in debt as much as £5,000 or more. With the Covid-19 crisis, even more students are and will be struggling financially.
“Charities such as YGAM and their new Student Hub website are vital for students. It is crucial to provide advice on how to make the most of university life while avoiding the risks.”
It follows from research that has suggested that approximately 88,000 students may already be classified as problem gamblers across the United Kingdom. The study , commissioned by YGAM and conducted by Red Brick Research, also found that there is some risk of gambling-related damage to 264,000 students.
YGAM has warned in response to the data that the ‘dramatic change’ to the lives of students as a result of the pandemic may increase the risk of students experiencing gaming and gambling-related harm during their studies.
Pete Woodward, YGAM ‘s head of delivery for University and Student Engagement, explained: “Student life has changed dramatically this year due to Covid-19, and this could have a detrimental impact on student wellbeing and increase the risks associated with gaming and gambling at university.
“Our Student Hub is the first of its kind; supporting students to enjoy a university experience free from gaming and gambling-related harm. We will use this online portal to gather insights and share findings with our partners at other universities and students’ unions.”
YGAM has assigned a number of students in part-time positions to drive their programme in order to support the Student Hub initiative and other university projects and to ensure that students’ voices are used consistently in their work.
In addition, the charity will also train employees across 25 UK universities, allowing ‘an unprecedented number of young people to benefit from the additional safeguarding this will allow’.
Karen Rowlingson, University of Birmingham Professor of Social Policy, added: “Students are under huge pressures, more so than ever this year. Gambling and gaming problems can sometimes be a consequence of those pressures and sometimes a further cause.
“YGAM’s new student hub provides an incredibly important resource to help students avoid the risks of gaming and gambling-related harm at this time.”
Mike Wojcik, CEO, Chair of the Students ‘ Union of Queen Mary University of London and Chair of Trustees for YGAM, concluded: “YGAM has developed an accessible, interactive resource with excellent content. It’s a superb digital platform which delivers what the charity was set up to do: inform, educate and safeguard young and potentially vulnerable young people.”