Duo campaign for help for young gamblers

Care leavers Sam Cooper and Bradley Wilson
Care leavers Sam Cooper and Bradley Wilson

A Clitheroe care leaver who turned to gambling is campaigning for more support for youngsters who find themselves in a similar position.

Sam Womack (21) struggled with his finances after moving into his own home when he left the care system.

He is now campaigning for more support to be available for young people when they leave children’s homes.

Sam explained how, as soon as he turned 18, he was forced to find a place of his own and fend for himself.

With support from Fixers, a charity which gives young people the opportunity to create a media campaign, Sam and fellow care leaver Bradley Wilson (23) have produced a booklet called “Out Of Care And Going It Alone: A Guide To Independent Living By Young People For Young People.”

Sam said: “I struggled with finance when I first moved in to my own place. I didn’t know how to manage my money at first and I was a bit daft – I gambled with it and I was a bit silly.

“I’d go to the arcades and spend money that I didn’t have in the slot machines.

“Fortunately, I quickly realised that I had bills to pay and that was more important, so I made the decision to stop.”

The pair hope they can use their personal experience of leaving care to help prepare young people for what lies ahead.

Advice on what essentials to buy for a new home, how to budget, and keeping yourself safe are among the tops tips provided in the booklet for living independently.

Sam, who is studying catering and hospitality at Blackburn College, continued: “I’ve got to grips with it now. I made myself aware that I needed to use the money for other things that were more important – like rent and bills.”

Now 21, Sam is enjoying living independently: “Everything has fallen into place and it’s all going really great.”

Fixers works with young people aged 16-25 across the UK by providing them with resources to help them campaign on issues they feel strongly about.

The charity has helped more than 19,000 youngsters to have a voice in their community on issues such as cyber-bullying, self-harm, suicide or transphobia.

Since 2008, more than 19,000 young people in England have become Fixers and created around 2,000 projects with help from a £7.2 million grant from the Big Lottery Fund.

The charity’s chief executive Margo Horsley said: “Fixers started in 2008 as just an idea which was then given a voice by some 19,000 young people over the next five years.

“They have reached thousands of people with their work, on a national stage as well as in and around where they live.

“Fixers are always courageous and their ideas can be challenging and life-changing, not just for themselves.”

For more information, or to make a donation to fund more Fixer projects, visit www.fixers.org.uk.