Over the weekend you may have seen me on Channel 4 news or heard me on Times Radio talking about gambling. Channel 4 highlighted the tragic story of Jack Ritchie who was just 24 when he took his own life after years of battling with gambling addiction. Our current legislation is an analogue piece of legislation in a digital era, enacted at a time when smartphones didn’t allow access to gambling sites 24/7 and when gambling meant a trip down the bookies and handing over some cash rather than a credit card number entered into a website. The UK Government has to step up and ensure stringent regulations that will allow people to enjoy their hobby with safeguards to prevent harm. Jack Ritchie had his whole life ahead of him. We do not want to see any more horrific cases where gambling addiction causes so much pain to an individual and their family.
I talked on Times Radio about gambling sponsorship in sport. We know how hard hit the sporting sector has been by the coronavirus with games initially cancelled and now having to be played in empty stadiums. But the obscene amounts of money that gambling companies are able to offer for sponsorship means that other companies are usually unable to get a look in. My local club in Swansea decided to change their sponsorship to the local university because they felt it was the right thing to do but so many clubs spectators – among them children – are watching footballers play emblazoned with the bright and colourful advertising of the gambling world. Our children shouldn’t grow up thinking that gambling is normal. They’re being seduced into believing gambling is harmless as their role models are indirectly promoting it with the logos splashed across their shirts, but it isn’t. Gambling can lead to addiction, and addiction can lead to heartbreak for so many – as Jack Ritchie’s tragic story shows.
We discussed the problems of our outdated legislation when members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm met with Minister Nigel Huddlestone from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to discuss the long overdue Gambling Review. We have to make sure our regulations protect those who need protecting and prevent exploitation by a predatory industry. We want to see an end to VIP schemes and inducements, stake limits for online slot content no higher than £2, and a complete ban on advertising, and it was good to share our asks with the Minister.
I was pleased to chair a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Beauty, Aesthetics and Wellbeing this week to discuss inclusivity in the beauty industry. We discussed what could be done in the beauty industry to improve inclusivity and to raise awareness of visible differences. We heard from representatives of Changing Faces, the UK’s leading charity for everyone with a scar, mark, or condition on their face or body that makes them look different and from Avon, who are working with Changing Faces on their #PledgeToBeSeen campaign. Our beauty industry has a really important role to play in promoting diversity and can have a really positive impact on educating people and supporting those who struggle with discrimination.
I was also pleased to be able to ask the Leader of the House to join me in supporting Changing Faces and Avon UK’s campaign. 1 in 5 people in the UK has a scar, a birth mark, or a skin condition and yet, in ad campaigns and promotions we see very little diversity like this. We want our Government services and the people we see in adverts and other campaigns to represent the people of the UK in their totality. What is important is an individual’s personal traits, not their physical appearance, and we want that message to become an accepted norm across the country.
Thursday marked the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and this year the message is that it’s never been more important to check your boobs! We know the Covid-19 pandemic led to cancer screening services being suspended in the spring, and although screenings have now resumed, many people are still reluctant to talk to their doctor. Survival rates for breast cancer are high – particularly if it is caught and diagnosed early. We all know our bodies and we all have to take responsibility for making sure that if there is something that doesn’t feel or seem right, we get it checked out.
You can keep up to date with Welsh Government announcements and information on their dedicated coronavirus page. As always, if you have any issues or concerns to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch by emailing email@example.com – my team and I are here to help. And remember – observe social distancing, wash your hands regularly and keep Wales safe!