Raminta catches up with debt advice organisation PayPlan for Debt Awareness Week 2021.
Since 2014 debt charity StepChange have been running an annual campaign to help people talk more openly about debt-related issues. Seven out of ten callers to the National Gambling Helpline mention some level of debt but many are still unaware that free debt advice is available in the UK.
PayPlan is one of the UK’s leading debt help and advice providers. GamCare caught up with Emma Gibbons, Vulnerable Client Manager at PayPlan, to discuss the link between gambling and financial difficulties and what support is available for anyone affected by gambling debts.
Many people coming to GamCare to get help with their gambling also have debts and financial difficulties. Do you see the same link between gambling and debt at PayPlan?
Well, gambling problems can lead to money worries, but money worries can also lead to gambling problems. Low income, job loss, furlough or just generally struggling to keep your head above water financially – it can make people think that gambling can be a way out of that situation. They’re chasing the win hoping that the winnings will cover debts or even change their life. But gambling is not a way to make money and very often it makes those financial difficulties even worse.
How do you help your debt clients who also have gambling issues?
At PayPlan, we have ensured that all of our frontline and support staff are fully aware of the help that is available for people affected by gambling harm, and we refer to the specialist support provided through GamCare.
Our staff also receive training about self-help tools to help people to stop gambling, including blocking software, bank gambling blocks and self-exclusion schemes. We give our clients the information they need about various money strategies and discuss the debt solutions that are available which can be really tailored to their needs.
There seems to be a lot of stigma about getting help when you’re struggling with money and can’t keep up with repayments.
At PayPlan we know that clients with gambling debts fear judgement, however confiding that to us is the first step, and we are here to help. We do understand the situation and we do have experience in helping many people in similar situations. Our clients soon learn that there is no judgement, no discrimination and that there is help out there. It’s a real turning point for them and our colleagues are there to reassure and guide every step of the way.
Do you find that your clients are more willing to discuss their gambling too?
PayPlan have over 20 years’ experience in offering free debt advice and I have been with the company for nine years now. Over that time, I have seen some real changes with regards to vulnerability and the different disclosures that our clients share with us, including about gambling.
We have seen an increase in gambling-related disclosures from our clients over these last few months, which may be a result of to the pandemic and various lockdowns. It’s really great to see the stigma around disclosing a gambling problem starting to be removed, because we can support our clients better when we understand their situation.
When we talk about debt advice, a pile of papers and banks statements spring to mind. What does debt advice look like during COVID?
At PayPlan we ensure people can get in touch with us in the ways that suit them. We can talk to our clients over the phone, or they can email, message via WhatsApp or live chat with us.
During the pandemic we are also offering video calls so that the face to face contact is there if our clients choose. We also have a dedicated website with lots of practical information and advice about the help available.
One thing that hasn’t changed though is that we really listen to what our clients tell us. We can then ensure that clients disclosures are fully recorded with client’s permission, so they don’t have to keep repeating their circumstances. For many, it may be the first time that they have spoken to anybody about their gambling and financial problems but you can also hear a sigh of relief once they know that someone is there to listen and can offer real practical solutions.
For more information on how to deal with money worries because of gambling, click here >>