As a recovering gambling addict
and a huge football fan, I am aware that the prevalence of gambling in football from a young age normalized gambling, exacerbated my problem and subsequent gambling addiction. This addiction took to me my darkest places and I am pleased to be nearly 24 months in recovery. The sport I love has been infected by gambling and like many others, it infected me too. There are 400,000 problem gamblers
in the UK. In the last year 80,000 of these will have thought about suicide and 20,000 of these will have attempted suicide
This tragic data is why,in June 2019, we walked 124 miles in 90 hours around the North of England. The first Big Step was a tough but rewarding challenge where we asked clubs and fans to review their relationship with gambling companies to prevent gambling harm in football. We raised £4000 and just as importantly, subsequently engaged with clubs to raise awareness of gambling harms and put measures in place to protect those affected by gambling related harm.
In February 2020 we will walk 100 miles in 75 hours visiting Reading FC, Watford FC, West Ham United FC, Crystal Palace FC, QPR FC and Fulham FC. All six of these Premier League and Championship clubs have a gambling based shirt sponsor. We will conclude the event with a Wembley Stadium to Downing Street walk on Wednesday 26th February.
The challenges will once again raise funds and awareness for Gambling with Lives, a charity set up by bereaved families and friends of gambling addicts who sadly took their own lives. Our ultimate aim of our work is to prevent any more gambling related suicides, with a big step being football clubs evaluating their relationship with gambling.
For more info checkout The Big Step on Twitter