A former professional rugby player who got into debt due to a crippling ten-year gambling problem has praised Wigan Council’s free counselling service as being his ‘saviour’.
Adam Thomas, 26, was one of the first people to access the service, delivered by Beacon Counselling on behalf of GamCare, to help tackle his gambling addiction which saw him lose his house, car, friends and family.
He explained that the problem started back when he was a teenager when gambling was seen as a social activity.
Adam said: “I began gambling when I was 16 years old. At the beginning it was more of a social thing, but then it quickly spiralled out of control.
“I’ve tried everything, Gamblers Anonymous, hypnotherapy [and] rehab.
“I’m not saying they’re not successful – they work for a lot of people – but they weren’t for me.”
Research from charity Gamble Aware suggests that Adam is far from alone – they have estimated that up to 590,000 adults in Britain may have a gambling problem.
Adam explained that the help and support he was given has helped him to turn his life around.
He said: “With this new service I felt like for the first time in my life I was an individual, like I was being listened to.
“Before I’d find excuses not to go to counselling whereas now I’m looking forward to my next session. It really has been my saviour.”
Councillor Terry Halliwell, portfolio holder for customer transformation at Wigan Council, said that this service was one of many ways the council aimed to help people manage their finances.
He explained: “Since the welfare reforms were introduced last year we’ve done a lot of work to prevent residents from getting into debt by signposting them to responsible lenders such as Credit Unions and helping them manage their money better with free courses.
“It’s not just loan sharks we’re targeting; we’ve also started working closely with betting shops to ensure they’re operating responsible and at the beginning of this year we passed a motion calling on the government to band Fixed Odds Betting Terminals altogether.
“This new counselling service will complement our existing work perfectly, helping problem gamblers and their families deal with the effects of gambling.
“I’m really pleased that we’ve decided to launch the service her in Wigan Borough, as I’m sure many of our residents will be.”
The new free service will support individuals and their families affected by problem gambling by offering free one-to-one counselling, couples counselling and group counselling.
For more information about Beacon Counselling Trust click here.
Picture courtesy of Rob Boudon, with thanks