LOCAL politicians have welcomed news that a gambling education charity has expanded its reach into Dorset.

The move by the Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM) is part of its £10 million national programme to help safeguard young people from the potential risks around gaming and gambling.

It will be providing free educational workshops and resources to anyone who works with or cares for children in north Dorset.

Simon Hoare, MP for North Dorset, said: "I have personally been briefed on the plans YGAM has for north Dorset and I believe there is a real need for their services to support our young people.

"Whilst schools have been closed during the lockdown, the amount of time young people have been spending online has increased significantly meaning the work has never been more important.

"I want to make sure that collectively we are doing everything we can to ensure future generations of people from Dorset and the south west are educated and safeguarded from the potential consequences of gaming and gambling."

The national charity is one organisation doing work as part of the £10 million of funding from the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC). YGAM will use the money to expand its outreach, which it hopes will be more than three million young and vulnerable people by 2024.

Blandford councillor Nocturin Lacey-Clarke thinks the problem surrounding gambling in young people has been worsened by the lockdown.

He said: "I think what YGAM are trying to do is fantastic and very much needed. This is a new issue that it rising, and it has been exacerbated hugely during lockdown because people haven't been able to see their usual friends in person so young people have been driven into the online world."

As well as helping and educating young people, the charity also focuses its efforts into educating parents and teachers and has online workshops highlighting some signs for carers to look out for if they are concerned children might have a gambling problem.

Katherine Sawyer, YGAM education manager for the south west, said: "My aim is to train as many practitioners in Dorset as possible so we can make sure that collectively we are doing everything we can to educate and safeguard young people from the potential consequences of gaming and gambling."

For more information on YGAM and to access support, visit https://www.ygam.org/