Group featured in Channel 4 Dispatches show to pass through Milton Keynes this Saturday on WALK from Scotland to Wembley
Gambling survivors are walking 300 miles from Scotland to Wembley and will pass through MK on Saturday
A group of over 30 people harmed by gambling will pass through Milton Keynes on Saturday on their 300-mile walk from Scotland to Wembley Stadium.
The event is part of the Big Step, a grassroots campaign founded by people with lived experience of gambling harm, part of the charity Gambling with Lives.
This is the Big Step’s fifth walk, and by far the biggest. Participants set off from Gretna on June 4th, and will have walked nearly 300 miles over 10 days, arriving at Wembley Stadium on Sunday (when England play Croatia) ahead of England’s game against Scotland on June 18th.
Since 2019, the Big Step has been campaigning to reduce gambling-related harms across the entire UK population by tackling the escalation of gambling advertising in football. After the success of their last walk in March, which saw over 300 people from around the country collectively walk over 2,000 miles, the Big Step campaigners are turning their attention to the European Football Championship which gets underway tonight (June 11th).
At the beginning of the 2020/21 season, 85 per cent of Premier League and 75 per cent of Championship clubs listed a gambling sponsor or partner. As a result, a gambling brand is now visible up to 89 per cent of the time on Match of the Day, which is watched by up to seven million people each week. During international tournaments, all games are broadcast live on terrestrial TV, with ITV screening 172 gambling adverts during their coverage of the 2018 World Cup – equivalent to 17 per cent of total advertisements broadcast throughout the tournament.
Together with over 60 signatories, including parliamentarians and leading clinicians, the Big Step has written to major broadcasters – including ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, Sky Sports, BT Sport, and TalkSPORT – asking them to suspend gambling adverts during the Euros. They also have an open letter for supporters to add their voice to the growing call for a suspension of gambling adverts during the tournament.
James Grimes, founder of the Big Step, who was formerly addicted to gambling, said: “Football has been a beacon of hope throughout the pandemic and the Euros should be a reason to celebrate as the recovery from it continues, and not be a platform to promote addictive and harmful gambling products.
“Promoting gambling, including products with addiction rates of up to 50 per cent, is a huge contradiction to the good work that football does, which is why we believe gambling adverts and sponsorship should have no place in football.”
Stacey Goodwin, who is recovering from gambling addiction and will be joining her first Big Step walk, said: “I am walking with the Big Step because for eight years of my life I believed I was the only young woman in the world to suffer with a gambling addiction to the extent that I did, to a point where I almost lost my life. I am walking to let other young women know that they are not on their own. This addiction does not discriminate: no matter your age, gender, or ethnicity, this addiction can take hold.”
Those walking from Scotland to England have been supported by hundreds of people all over the country, who’ll be joining in remotely and walking in solidarity to help make this the biggest-ever Big Step event. Among those joining in remotely are several MPs, including Paul Bloomfield and Ronnie Cowan.
The Big Step’s latest walk comes against the backdrop of the government’s ongoing review of the 2005 Gambling Act, with the outcome expected later this year.
Dates, route and the journey so far:
4th June – Carlisle (Starting at Gretna FC)
5th June – Carlisle (Starting at Carlisle United FC)
6th June – Cumbria (Starting at Kendal Town FC)
7th June – Lancashire (Starting at Lancaster City FC)
8th June – Lancashire (Starting at Preston North End FC)
9th June – Greater Manchester (Starting at Stockport County FC)
10th June – Derby (Starting at Derby County FC)
11th June – Coventry (Starting at Coventry City FC)
12th June – Milton Keynes & Luton (Starting at MK Dons FC, Finishing at Luton Town FC)
13th June – Brent (Finishing at or around Wembley Stadium)