2021 has been quite the year for The Big Step – I think we can safely say we managed to make up a lot of the lost time in the lockdowns of 2020! Here are some highlights of the last 12 months:
– In February 60 people, including people harmed by gambling and parliamentarians, successfully wrote to several football clubs to ask them to stop direct gambling links on social media – which was belatedly announced as a policy by the Betting and Gaming Council a few weeks later. You can read the letter here.
– In June, an inspiring group of people harmed by gambling walked all the way from Scotland to Wembley – 300 miles in 10 days – you can check out the event film here.
– In July, we were at two gambling ad-free games including the first-ever ‘Big Step Derby’ between Billericay Town and Lewes FC, both of which back our campaign. You can read more here.
– In September, we joined Peter and Steph Shilton to hand in our 12,000-strong petition (now at nearly 15,000) to 10 Downing Street. You can read more here.
– In October we made a splash in London by walking across the capital from clubs with gambling sponsors towards Dulwich Hamlet, after they backed our campaign. You can read more here.
– In November, we worked with BBC Sport to successfully persuade football clubs to take gambling advertising away from the junior section of their websites. You can read more here.
– In December we were proud to support Annie Ashton in her letter to Leicester City, asking the club to end their relationships with 5 gambling companies – the most in English football. You can read more here.
We’ve also won the support of 15 clubs from all levels of football this year, including Forest Green Rovers. We have also launched Football SAGA and bought together 10 supporters’ groups to back our campaign.
The results of the Gambling Act review won’t be known for a few months yet, but we can’t afford to let up as we head into 2022. That’s why on January 18th, we’ll be joining a ‘Gambling Reform Rally’ at Westminster, which is being organised by Peers for Gambling Reform and the Gambling-Related Harm APPG. The rally is open for all to attend, so please do put the date in your diary. You can register to attend the event here.
In February, The Big Step will be heading to Scotland for our next event, so get your warm clothes and waterproofs ready and watch this space for an announcement with more details very soon.
Despite our efforts throughout 2021, the reality is that gambling advertising still saturates our beautiful game, exposing millions of young fans to addictive products. You can rest assured that we will not stop campaigning until it’s gone from football. If the government won’t do that, or stop short at a shirt sponsorship ban, then we will do our very best to bring every club in the country with us.
I want to thank The Big Step team – Tom, Emily, Nick, and everybody else at Gambling with Lives for their constant support and incredible work this year, which has taken our campaign to the next level.
A huge thanks as well to every single person who has taken part or supported any of our events this year. They have reminded me that we are always more than a campaign – we are a movement representing the millions of people harmed by gambling and we wear yellow to shine a light on gambling harms and the need for reform.
That’s all from me for now. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas break and thank you once again for all your support this year.