Greater Manchester Communities Addressing Gambling Harms

Evaluation Completed June 2023


What does the research mean for Local Authorities?

This evaluation investigated the ‘Communities Addressing Gambling Harms’ project, administrated by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority. The project involved a Community of Practice of diverse community organisations and people with Lived Experience.

The evaluation found that the project effectively raised awareness and facilitated action to address GRH across the Greater Manchester region. 12 community projects engaged in social campaigning, education, training, social support and community outreach. We were able to identify promising interventions such as Lived Experience-led awareness raising platforms and education on gambling harms that focuses on harmful products rather than promote ‘individual responsibility’. We also found that the Community of Practice proved an effective mechanism for driving social innovation in an emerging and contested public health area: this could be replicated in other areas.

What does the evaluation research mean for the Public?

By establishing what community organisations can do to address gambling harms, the public may continue to benefit from the Communities Addressing Gambling Harms (CAGH) project through more appropriate and effective interventions. One such intervention was a health messaging intervention called ‘Odds Are: They Win’ which aims to enhance public awareness of the gambling industry’s role in driving harm. In addition, many of the interventions involve communities directly so that building on the insights of CAGH will present further opportunities for individuals, families and communities to contribute to addressing GRH. Some of the immediate positives from CAGH are:

– Increased public awareness and understanding of gambling related harms

– Reduced shame and stigma associated with disclosing gambling disorder

– Denormalisation of gambling in sport

– Increase number of people accessing social support

– Brief interventions in the community to reduce harm.

How are the public involved in the evaluation?

The Communities Addressing Gambling Harms programme was developed with the support of a Lived Experience group. We ran three workshops with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and two members of the Lived Experience group helped us develop the evaluation during the workshops. We are now expanding the group to create a Public and Patient Involvement and Engagement Advisory panel which will advise us as we carry out the evaluation.  

Lay summary of research

What is this evaluation about? 

Greater Manchester Combined Authority has brought together diverse community organisations and people with Lived Experience of Gambling-Related Harms (GRH) in a Community of Practice (CoP).

CoPs bring people together who are trying to solve a problem so they can learn from each other. The community organisations will participate in the CoP and deliver individual projects that aim to educate people about GRH and support people experiencing them. The people with Lived Experience of GRH will be actively involved in the CoP and some of the individual projects. The project, as a whole, is aiming to raise awareness of GRH, the risks associated with gambling and available support services, across the Greater Manchester region. The aim of this evaluation is to find out whether this innovative approach works and how.  

What do we already know? 

Anyone who gambles is at risk of GRH and harms can be experienced by those around them, including family, friends and the wider society. A recent Public Health England report estimated the full cost to be £1.27 billion a year but this amount is likely to be lower than the real cost because of gaps in the data. The government has been slow to respond and there is concern about the role of gambling firms in promoting risky gambling activities. Local authorities and community organisations have a key role to play in addressing GRH as they can find out about local GRH and support people experiencing them. Awareness of GRH among the public and organisations is low, however, with gambling often crowded out of local authority agendas.  

What don’t we know? 

We do not know whether action on GRH across a region can be driven by a CoP and Lived Experience. CoP are increasingly showing their potential to address problems across the NHS but whether they work in a community setting is unclear. While people with Lived Experience of GRH are increasingly being involved in gambling advocacy and research, whether they can be meaningfully involved at a regional level across multiple community projects is also not known.  

Why is an evaluation necessary? 

Our evaluation will help us to know whether a CoP of diverse community organisations and Lived Experience is a useful way for raising awareness of the issues and motivating action on GRH. It will help councils in other areas who are trying to address GRH by telling them what to do. For example, it will tell them how to bring together community organisations and people with Lived Experience so they can learn from each other. It will also help them set up and support Lived Experience groups so they can benefit from them.  

How will it be carried out? 

We will use a mix of methods to explore how the CoP and Lived Experience is working. We will interview people who are internal and external to the project to get their views. Focus groups with the people with Lived Experience of GRH will help us know how they are finding it and what councils can do to benefit from them. We will also observe some of the individual projects delivered by the community organisations and interview some of the people that the individual projects have sought to help or educate. Finally, we will analyse final reports of the community organisations and carry out surveys to find out whether the CoP has achieved what it set out to achieve. A survey will ask people external to the project whether they think it has raised awareness across Greater Manchester.  

What will we do with the results? 

The findings will describe and explain whether and how a CoP of community organisations and Lived Experience can help address GRH. They will describe what councils in others areas can do to benefit from bringing together community organisations and people with Lived Experience. The findings will be shared with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and people who have participated in the project. They will also be circulated in academic and briefing papers for the public health sector.

Local Authority/Partner(s)

Greater Manchester County Council


PHIRST South Bank Research Team

Dr Thomas Mills (PI), Prof Paula Reavey (PI), Prof Antony Moss, Prof Ian Albery, Dr Cath Jenkins