In a groundbreaking new scheme, the charity GamCare will provide counselling sessions to problem gamblers at branches of the famous high street bank.
GamCare will offer counselling sessions to problem gamblers at 13 NatWest Bank branches.
Members of the public will be able to contact their local branch to book a face to face appointment with a specialist. This service will be open to everyone, whether you’re a NatWest customer or not.
The groundbreaking scheme will launch in the following towns and cities:
Haywards Heath, West Sussex
The scheme will be launched in four further towns, yet to be announced
Eventually, the bank hopes to roll out the scheme to branches all over the country. NatWest’s Head of Lending, Phil Sheehy, said that the bank was offering addicts an “accessible” and “neutral” space to come and seek help. He added that “some customers may be uncomfortable going to an addiction centre.”
The outgoing Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Nicky Morgan, praised the scheme as a necessary one, especially when the banking industry plays an important role in a gamblers interaction with gambling.
Before she announced her departure, she said “I will closely monitor NatWest’s progress and I urge others in the banking sector to follow suit for the good of their customers.”
According to the latest statistics, there are over 340,000 British adult problem gamblers which equates to 0.7% of the population. The Gambling Commission says there are a further 540,000 people who are considered at-risk and have suffered moderately due to gambling, though they may not strictly be addicts.
Gambling addiction has cost the UK economy hundreds of millions of pounds.
Mike Kenward, the Director of Development at GamCare, said the link between the country’s financial institutions and the gambling industry was not widely understood.
“Banks are in a phenomenal position,” he said, “to support people affected by problem gambling.”