A NEW service has been rolled out across Wirral to help staff and volunteers spot the signs of gambling-related harm early.

Citizens Advice Wirral has rolled out the Gambling Support Service which takes a 'public health approach' to the issue.

A dedicated trainer will teach frontline staff from a range of organisations to identify anyone at risk of gambling-related harm and support them with the knock-on effects it can have such as debt, work and housing problems.

The staff will learn who is more at risk, how gambling has changed and how to spot signs of gambling-related harm.

It will be delivered to staff at organisations such as councils, housing associations, job centres and voluntary sector organisations so they can help people get the support.

Gambling support service project worker, James Callaway told the Globe: "A recent example of how Citizens Advice has supported someone who was a harmful gambler was Alicia (client name changed to protect their anonymity).

"Alicia had contacted Citizens Advice Wirral as she had numerous debts including council tax debt and water arrears.

"After exploring her debt problems I was able to establish that Alicia was using her wages to play online bingo instead of paying her bills.

"I supported her to access GamCare counselling and the local Gamblers Anonymous group and also agreed a strategy for her to be able to pay off her debts by making affordable payment offers to each of her creditors.

"I’m pleased to say that Alicia is no longer gambling and is keeping up with her debt repayments and paying her bills."

The project is one out of 10 services across the UK being funded by a £1.5million partnership with GambleAware.

Chief officer of Citizens Advice Wirral Carol Johnson-Eyre said: “Problem gambling can set off a chain reaction of issues and lead to debt, eviction, mental health problems and relationship breakdown.

"It not only causes problems for those gambling but for their family, friends and colleagues as well.

"This service means frontline staff and volunteers can develop and share the skills necessary to spot signs of problem gambling early to help prevent the knock-on problems getting worse."

For advice please visit www.citizensadvicewirral.org.uk