Maja and Aila, from GamCare’s Youth Advisory Board (YAB), share their experiences of working with the YAB.*
Maja and Aila are the only current Scottish members of the YAB. We have been with the YAB since the beginning and this is a blog about what it is and what we aim to do as a group.
We first decided to become part of the Youth Advisory Board for GamCare when we found their website on DofE.com. We were looking for volunteering opportunities and knew it should be this. The website was probably the first thing that drew us in. It was well informed and helpful, you can tell that the writers were passionate about the issues. GamCare specialises in helping people that are affected by gambling in their daily lives. Whether that is a family member or friend who has a gambling addiction, or if they are a gambler themselves.
When we had our first introductory meeting with Ciaran McGinley (Lived Experience and Participation Manager), we spoke about what the charity did and what contributions we would like to make. After this, our weekly meetings with the rest of the YAB began.
The YAB is a group of people aged 11-17 from all over the UK who attend weekly sessions as a group to discuss the latest issues and input on future decisions. We also have separate jobs. Some people write blogs informing others, some people create social media posts and others create and edit workshops for schools and youth clubs.
At our first meeting, we spoke about issues relating to gambling and changes that could help the charity attract more young people. One of these changes was the renovation of the website. The YAB came together and discussed the ways we could make the website more inviting for young people to get information and advice from the specialists.
The YAB has been around for about a month and a half and in this time we have held meetings that have focused on different things. One of our first meetings was to do about gambling advertisements and if we think they are suitable. We learnt a lot at this meeting, where gambling adverts are shown, for how long and what they look like. Another memorable meeting was when a member of staff presented a workshop to us. It was the one they used in schools and youth clubs when they visited them. It was nice to see how the workshop was done and how effective and informative it was.
Soon after we met the CEO and directors in charge of the charity. We had long discussions about diversity, stereotypes and advice. It was interesting and eye-opening to hear their opinions on our questions.
We haven’t been with the YAB for long, but we are happy to be a part of a group of young people who can make changes that matter. The YAB proudly has many great members who care about the issues and problems gambling causes. We hope to see the YAB grow over time, as it is a safe space where everyone is listened to and everyone’s opinions matter.
If you are affected by gambling harm, whether it is your own or someone close to you’s gambling, reach out to our Young People’s Support Service here.
*This article is written by a member of our Youth Advisory Board and all views represented are their own