Ok, quite simply I consider this the most important blog update since the site started 4 months ago.
But let me address the BBC documentary first.
BBC’s Inside Out
Firstly it’s fair to say the BBC Inside Out programme aired last Monday, and due to be aired in the London region tonight (Monday 7th), set me back in the early part of last week.
This was my first media experience and I was shattered by their portrayal of me and how I came across. To use a boxing analogy I was floored to the canvas …but not knocked out. Even my closest friends couldn’t get a word out of me until Thursday last week. Anyone who has read my website knows I have never been one for ‘woe is me’ otherwise I wouldn’t have written so candidly about my story.
I spent a whole day filming and naively thought they might focus on how we were helping people and what we can do to rid the High Street of the wretched FOBT machines. Yet they seemed to focus on my addiction to the machines and what a twat I was!
All understandable but nonetheless it caught me a little unprepared. I’ve learnt that it’s easier to write about my experiences than having a camera and crew filming me which left me unusually nervous and unable to articulate myself as well as I’d like.
I’d like to say a massive thank you to Phil, Eugene and Grant of GRASP for their emails and messages of support and helping me recognise that it’s normal to be nervous and their first experiences were similarly tricky, that we have to view any media attention as a positive and ultimately to let it go.
I also acknowledge that the BBC did put together a piece that highlighted the FOBT issue and got the public talking about it again. Ultimately it’s not their fault I came across like that and we thank them for their time and willingness to get the subject matter some air time.
For the record …I will be more selective as to the pieces I’m asked to do in future and this site is the ONLY place you will find my unedited view/opinions on anything gambling related moving forward.
A presence in front of the camera isn’t, and never has been, important to me.
Roger and Camera = Shite!
As I was told….let it go and learn from it. In fact it’s made more determined to see this through….which leads me nicely to THE most significant change to where I want this site to go in the coming weeks.
I share this with you now as it’s written down and I then have to see it through …and I will.
Since my site went live on June 11th I have learned more about the lack of regulation, about organisations and campaigns, made some good contacts and have quietly (ahem) sat back trying to think outside the box as to the best way we can influence change. One of these ideas will remain private until as and when I may be able to pull it off. But this part I can share now and make an appeal for peoples help to assist me.
I’m not the most patient of people anyway (probably a big contributor to my addiction!) and I get increasingly frustrated at the speed, or lack thereof, which the government fail to take any significant action.
At the last GRASP meeting I stated that whilst we continue to strive to influence change in the excellent way GRASP and other organisations/campaigns do, maybe…and it is a maybe…it would be more ‘powerful’ and louder a voice if we could try to encourage more people to come forward to tell of their, in many cases, horrific story.
If we could get a groundswell of people having the courage to come out and say…yes, this is a massive issue and here’s how it affected me and my mental well-being, my innocent family and loved ones and how often the hardest part isn’t necessarily overcoming the addiction (which is f*****g hard!) but actually rebuilding your life, handling the huge debt, regaining peoples trust and respect, regaining some self-esteem….need I go on!?
I’ve given myself a deadline of end October, or hopefully sooner, to fund (help!) and develop a part of my site to exactly that. Peoples real life experiences and a platform on which they can relate how the addiction has affected them and their lives. I have a ‘bank’ of people who msg me through my site to ask and naturally I feel there are many on here who I pray would be willing to share…’Your Story’.
In an ideal world hopefully people would have the courage to be named but of course it could be done anonymously too. It has to be kept to a maximum 500 words and over time I’d like to think that more and more people would come forward. We could then take this to the powers that be and categorically prove that the Association of British Bookmakers is talking out of its arse stating there isn’t a problem.
Each story would be unedited…your words not mine. And absolutely write about the horrific side…we have to ….but also write one tip at the end of your piece that helped you personally overcome your demons and got/is getting you through the addiction. The one tip is important as it’s unique to you and I’ve learnt that each recovery journey is different. What works for some doesn’t work for others but if we get them all out there people can take what they choose from it.
Of course I will help in any way I can in terms of the writing of the piece and I fully appreciate many may be reluctant to come forward and I totally respect that viewpoint. All I ask is that you don’t make an immediate decision. Take some time to reflect on the benefits to you and others and the prospect that we can all potentially make the people that matter sit up and take heed of the scale of the problem.
365’s Ten Commandments for Gambling Addicts
In addition I will be adding a page on my site that specifically helps gambling addicts. I have learnt so much from my CNWL treatment and maybe I have something to offer in terms of my own experiences, not to mention people I’ve met and who have contacted me through my site.
I will be writing this in partnership with Phil Mawer, the author of the best-selling book ‘Overcoming Gambling’.
Phil has been my self-appointed mentor since Day 1 of the site going live. His advice and guidance throughout this last 4 months has been instrumental in me making it this far into my recovery. His unique approach is an easy read and isn’t cluttered with complicated scientific or physiological theories about what is going on in your mind and body whilst gambling.
Visit www.gamblersaloud.com to learn more.
Between us we will write a powerful, concise pocket-size guide as to the Top 10 Tips that has helped us to overcome our demons in the hope that addicts may take at least one thing away with them which they can work easily into their everyday routine.
My personal blog
Someone emailed me, and my inner circle of friends have also mentioned, that it is frustrating that I haven’t kept up my blog and regular updates.
So I recognise that and I apologise if people feel let down by that.
All I can say is that from this day forward I will keep it up to date and can only hope people understand that it’s not easy to bare your soul and detail how you rebuild your life etc. In fact to be honest, that’s been far harder than the gambling addiction this last few months.
I will start writing from tonight onwards and my next weekly blog update, with weekly cash count etc, will be next Monday 14th October.
That I promise.
Last Tuesday I had my last one-to-one session with my psychologist at CNWL London. As I’ve written countless times before it’s easily the best treatment I’ve had this far and I recommend it highly.
I will now aim to attend a monthly group session with CNWL in London (money permitting) and am fully aware that not attending my regular sessions could set me back. That said I think I’ll be so busy, and skint, this month that again it minimises my opportunities to gamble.
I also will tackle a subject that is for you to make your own judgement on….
On Saturday 5th October I spent £4 on two lines for the National Lottery.
Now, when I attended Gamblers Anonymous meetings a few years ago (and will attend some in October) they were adamant that this is gambling. I can’t say I disagree, technically whatever argument I put forward, it is paying money with the prospect of winning money. Fact.
However, CNWL have a much more empathetic attitude towards it. They tend to focus on the core triggers and problem areas of gambling for each individual. So in my case FOBT’s and online gambling are the main vehicles I used to gamble and fritter away thousands of pounds. I have never over indulged with weekly Lottery tickets or indeed scratchcards. Typically I used to spend only on the Saturday weekly draw a consistent amount of £3 per week. Compare that to the totalizer you see on My Debts page and you might get the point?
But….I accept, with great reluctance, that I cannot write ‘This Week I haven’t gambled’.
Don’t ever say I’m not honest on this site.