Positive outcomes from gambling harm reduction project

Amanda Crisp has shared her experience of a wonderful partnership and outcomes as a result of seed funding provided to Felltimber Community Centre and other neighbourhood houses in the Network through the Behind the Scenes at the Neighbourhood House project.


Tell us about the activity:

We have a number of groups that meet regularly at Felltimber. One of these supports particularly vulnerable members of the community. After speaking to this group, it was clear that social connection was a big need for participants. We also discussed the effects of gambling harm within the group.


From these discussions, we decided to use some of our seed funding to support the development of social connections within the group, to help reduce the isolation many of the participants were experiencing, not just from COVID but also due to their life experiences.


Through discussions with the volunteer group facilitator, we organised a community barbecue for the group to connect them socially, and provided an Art & Craft activity.


We also invited Jody & Don from Gamblers Help as means to build relationships wth that service using a very soft and informal approach. We didn’t formally introduce them to the group, just allowed them to be in the background, and free to speak about gambling harm if the opportunity presented itself.

All participants were given a show bag which had some goodies including a coffee voucher (to continue the ability to engage socially) and information from Gamblers Help. Even members that didn’t attend received the showbag, which was delivered by the volunteer facilitator.


Where did the idea come from?

The idea really developed itself. Due to COVID, the group hadn't met much and there was a real need that this seed funding could assist with. It really helped having a passionate facilitator. It was also filling a void that the program itself wasn't. This group is regional and was feeling unsupported by the metro-based organisation. What was missing was the social (BBQ) and service support (Gamblers Help).


Partnerships

The partnership with Gambler’s Help / Gateway Health was wonderful. Don from Gambler’s Help made himself available just to chat and mingled with the group in a non-intrusive manner.


The next step on future gatherings will be to start the conversation regarding services available through Gambler’s Help and Gateway Health. Don and Jody have offered to present another session where participants can engage in games that touch on gambling harm.


Outcomes / Impacts

One of the really positive outcomes was that the arts/craft facilitator let the participants know about another course she was running, aimed to reduce isolation and loneliness for seniors through affordable art activities (free through council grant). Some came along to this which has extended their social connections.


The feedback has been very positive and it has been made clear they would like more activities to engage in. One member said how they were all ‘buzzing’ after the activities and want to stay involved in future activities.


The volunteer facilitator of the group is now looking at applying for a council grant to provide cooking classes for the group.


What Worked?

It worked because:

· We were working with a group that was already using the Centre

· The volunteer facilitator is a great advocate for the group

· The art/craft facilitator was experienced working with vulnerable members of the community

· Gamblers Help were able to connect with the group with aims of extending this in the future.


Felltimber Community Centre has further developed relationships with each stakeholder and this is hopefully the start of more great things to come. We were even able to give free plants to the group that had been donated to us after Australia Day.


Final Thoughts

Due to the nature of community centres and neighbourhood houses and the flexibility we have with program delivery we were able to meet a community need in a responsive way that was relevant to this group of people. The relationships and networks already established with the user group, Gateway Health, Gambler’s Help, and program facilitators, along with the seed funding allowed us to deliver an event in a timely manner, and when the support was needed. It was a little serendipitous and came together really nicely! I think a highlight is that the timing of the event allowed a nice transition into other activities. The engagement of the group has grown and this in itself presents further opportunities. There is now talk of a cooking group, and movie nights!


Quote from the group facilitator: “Our group absolutely loved the function last Thursday. They really enjoyed the day and were delighted to make the rainbows. Boosted their confidence and some are planning on doing the silk scarfs. Who would have thought they would even consider participating let alone learning a new skill? A few people commented how they enjoyed the Gateway staff chatting with them in such an accepting easy going way.


"Congratulations to everyone who made this such a success. I have not seen our group so relaxed, socialising and enjoying themselves to that extent. Please pass on my comments and thanks to the staff involved- including you”.