Kirkstall councillor’s concerns over parents’ gambling

16 October 2019

A Kirkstall councillor has claimed that some parents’ gambling issues meant they were struggling to spend quality time with their children, writes local democracy reporter Richard Beecham.

The comments came in a Leeds City Council licensing committee meeting, during a discussion on the Northern Gambling Clinic, which opened in September.

Cllr Hannah Bithell (Lab, Kirkstall), who also works as a teacher, said that parents have opened up in the past about their gambling problems, and that schools should have the power to step in and help. She said:

“You will hear, sometimes, either kids will say something about their parents gambling, or I’ve had it before where parents will discuss at parents evening something about gambling or about spending time away from kids and not being able to read with them because of stuff such as that.

“I know there are safeguarding protocols around that but it would be useful if it were a referral.”

A representative of the clinic said:

“If a parent was 18 plus and they came to our service, we would be able to offer something called the five-step model for those who are affected.
“It could be mum, dad or a friend who is affected by someone else and gambling.”

He added that any professional could refer someone to the service.

A report by Leeds City Council officers, which went before panel members, suggested that around 10,000 people in Leeds are thought to have a gambling problem, and as many as 30,000 more could be at risk.

Cllr Bithell later asked:

“Previously we had a solely self-referral system. Does this mean GPs refer people in. I understand family members can’t but can it be almost compulsory seeking of help or is it entirely self-voluntary?”

The clinic representative said:

“The person has got to agree to want to come. A GP could make a referral on someone’s behalf without them really wanting to come, but we would never see them.
“Ideally the GP would talk to someone and refer them to the gambling service and they’d be on board with it straight away.”

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