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Ray Winstone and betting kids – UK gambling worse than ever says reformed Clerkenwell addict

PUBLISHED: 10:00 07 September 2014 | UPDATED: 09:26 08 September 2014

Director Frankie Graham and trustee Jennie Rooney, right, launch BetKnowMore to help fight against the rise of gambling addiction in the borough.

Director Frankie Graham and trustee Jennie Rooney, right, launch BetKnowMore to help fight against the rise of gambling addiction in the borough.

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New hub opening in Islington to help educate borough on problem gambling

Director Frankie Graham and trustee Jennie Rooney launch BetKnowMore to help fight against the rise of gambling addiction in the borough. Director Frankie Graham and trustee Jennie Rooney launch BetKnowMore to help fight against the rise of gambling addiction in the borough.

A reformed addict whose life was destroyed by betting has set about solving the borough’s ever worsening gambling problem.

Frankie Graham, of Mount Pleasant, Clerkenwell, is educating young and old about the dangers of gambling – which he says can lead to drugs, crime and suicide.

Mr Graham, 42, was an addict for 20 years and lost his job after using crime to fund his habit and turning to drugs.

But he turned his life around through meetings and volunteering with the YMCA – and is now set to provide mentoring, workshops and information to addicts.

Combat

He is opening a support hub for his social enterprise, Betknowmore, in St Mary’s Path, Islington, in September– and has already worked with pupils at Highbury Grove School and with Age UK.

He says Betknowmore is one of the few organisations in the country which is actively seeking out gamblers and trying to reach them before they have a problem.

Mr Graham said: “Gamblers developing a problem are quite a quirky bunch and people are reluctant to reach out and get support. It’s often their friends or family that come forward and get them help.

“Recent research suggests that only 9 per cent of problem gamblers have any kind of support, which means that the other 91pc are on their own – it’s a shocking statistic.

“We’re developing strategies to make sure the right information about gambling and the help we can provide gets across in Islington.”

Mr Graham is concerned that the gambling problem in the UK is more widespread than ever with relentless TV advertising, online betting and fixed-odds betting terminals which have been labelled “the crack-cocaine of gambling” – even making it easier for children to wager money.

Betknowmore will attempt to combat this through community based support and information, as well as planning a census of gambling in the borough to put together a database of how residents are betting.

He added: ‘Problem gambling is not just about losing money - it impacts on every part of your life’”

“About 60pc of problem gamblers will commit a crime and there’s a huge issue of cross addiction with people turning to drugs and drink because of stress.

“Young people have access to gambling like never before through phone apps, social media and websites. In fact, it’s estimated 60,000 children in the UK are “problem gamblers”.

“Gamblers are constantly getting triggers everywhere. You’ve even got Ray Winstone screaming at you to have a bet at half-time.”

n For more information go to betknowmoreuk.org, or for help with a gambling problem call 07534 979684.

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