At the age of 18 I had the world at my feet, I was playing rugby at a high level with real hopes of becoming professional, and as a fall back I was getting straight A’s in my A levels so I knew I had a strong academic background to fall back on. Due to injury, rugby didn’t work out, and when I went to University to study Psychology, I started to suffer from what would become a 10 year long battle with depression.
When my girlfriend fell pregnant, I started to look for a way to support us, so turned to gambling. I found that gambling also acted as a way to escape my depression and pretty soon I was in the depths of gambling addiction. This worsened over time and the very thing that I was using to escape my troubles, was actually the thing that was sending me into an ever worsening downward spiral that I could not escape from.
I was working as a sales manager and was bringing home decent money for my family, I continued to gamble and started to use lines of credit to fund my gambling, during a 3 year period I had over 100 pay-day loans as well as credit cards overdrafts, and other lines of credit, but it still wasn’t enough.
I started to steal money from my employer to make sure that I could still gamble, and this continued for around 3 years, by which point I was stealing tens of thousands a month. I tried to stop in July 2018 after a suicide attempt, but my account manager at the betting company lured me back in and by November 2018 I had stolen £370,000 and was caught. I attempted suicide again, and it was at this point I realised I had to turn my life around. Gambling was ruining everything in my life, and my now wife was heavily pregnant with our second child and I wanted to make sure that one day my daughters would be proud of me.
I spent the next 12 months doing everything I could to recover, as well as working with some gambling operators to raise awareness of how gambling can destroy lives. In November 2019, with a 11 month old and 8 year old daughter at home, I was sentenced to 3 years in prison.
During my time in prison I continued my recovery and I knew that upon release I wanted to use my story and experiences to help and make sure that others did not have to go through the same thing I had. Shortly after release I secured a job in a role where I speak to people at their lowest point every single day, and this is something that brings me an unbelievable sense of satisfaction and self worth.
However, I believe that we don’t need to let people get to “rock bottom” before we help them, what if we can prevent them from getting there in the first place. This is where I saw Red Card were recruiting and I knew that it was a perfect role for me. Awareness and education are the strongest tools we have at our disposal to prevent the next generation from falling into the same traps I did, in a world where gambling is more accessible than ever.