Gambling with Lives co-founders Liz and Charles Ritchie awarded MBEs
Liz and Charles Ritchie have both been awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours List for services to charity and to families bereaved by gambling-related suicide.
Charles, a retired civil servant who was Head of Higher Education Research, and Liz, a former NHS consultant psychotherapist, lost their son Jack in 2017 at the age of 24 after he had been drawn into gambling on highly addictive machines while still at school. Liz and Charles set up the charity Gambling with Lives in 2018 to support other gambling-bereaved families, to raise awareness of gambling-related suicide, and to campaign for change.
Charles and Liz have worked relentlessly to raise awareness of the number of gambling suicides and the link to toxic addictive gambling products and gambling industry predatory marketing practices. They campaign for a public health approach which puts responsibility for harm on the government and industry rather than solely on the individual who is drawn into gambling.
They have appeared in hundreds of pieces of high-profile media coverage and have met dozens of key MPs, Ministers and Secretaries of State. They have provided evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on the social and economic impact of the gambling industry, and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm.
“This award is really for all the families searching for justice for those that have died. This is for Jack and for all the others – unfortunately too many to name.”Liz Ritchie
Together they have brought gambling-related suicide, once barely mentioned, into the public consciousness on a national level. In 2018 Charles collated worldwide research to conclude that between 250-650 people in the UK take their lives each year because of gambling. In September 2021, Public Health England confirmed his work and published a figure of more than 400 gambling-related suicides each year in England alone: more than one every day.
Liz and Charles pushed hard to get a comprehensive inquest into Jack’s death, which proved to be a landmark human rights ruling in March 2022. The coroner found that Jack’s death was caused by “woefully inadequate” gambling-related treatment, information and regulation, and he acknowledged the enormous contribution of Liz and Charles in bringing the issues around Jack’s death to the public’s attention.
“We believe the upcoming Gambling Act review white paper will be the starting point for a great number of the reforms we’ve all pushed so hard for, and that it will finally lead to a decrease in the daily gambling suicides in the UK.”Charles Ritchie
But it is Liz and Charles’s daily work to support families bereaved by gambling-related suicide – the only charity specialising in this in the UK and (it seems) the world – that they are being awarded for. Gambling with Lives, the charity they founded, supports a large community of families dealing with the incredibly difficult time following the suicide of a loved one. This includes remembering and family events, help with legal proceedings, debt, and therapy. Gambling with Lives is also contributing to the development of a training programme for health professionals and has launched a schools education programme taking a public health approach that will be rolled out nationally to inform young people about the risks of addictive gambling products and predatory marketing.
As charity trustees, Liz and Charles work full-time on a voluntary basis.
Liz Ritchie said:
“This award is really for all the families searching for justice for those that have died. This is for Jack and for all the others – unfortunately too many to name.
“It’s been a real privilege to be able to support other bereaved families through some of hardest times they will ever have to go through. All the staff at Gambling with Lives have so much courage and they make this work possible.”
Charles Ritchie said:
“This award is a recognition of the hard work of many people, including many bereaved families, who have fought to reform gambling in the UK for so long, including for years before we became involved in this issue.
“We believe the upcoming Gambling Act review white paper will be the starting point for a great number of the reforms we’ve all pushed so hard for, and that it will finally lead to a decrease in the daily gambling suicides in the UK.”
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