About Me

Who Am I?

An image of Patrick speaking

I am Patrick Foster, a former professional cricketer, insurance broker and independent schoolteacher whose life was torn to shreds by a pathological gambling addiction. Despite my idyllic upbringing and incredible success as a youngster, my life became monopolised by gambling from university days onwards as I found making the transition from playing sport and into the real world a huge challenge. My gambling addiction brought me to the verge of taking my own life in March 2018.

The mist has lifted, and I have gained some insight into the nature of the condition that was keeping me so unsettled for such a long time, and the impact it has had on my life and that of my family.

What Do I Do?

Patrick speaking in a lecture theatre

I use a combination of hard-hitting, lived experience with educational experience and knowledge to deliver education, prevention and awareness talks about addiction and mental health. One of my primary objectives is to enhance the understanding of gambling and gaming related harm amongst young people by enabling them to make more informed choices by learning from my experiences.

It is essential that young people, their teachers and their parents, are now more aware of the dangers and pitfalls of gambling and online gaming, how they can protect themselves, and what to do if they need help. It is important that young people are able to recognise the links between gambling and online gaming, and the potentially negative consequences these can have on their mental health.

Why Do I Do This?

A need has developed within me to share my journey with young people and their parents as well as those who may be experiencing similar difficulties or who are unaware of the potential pitfalls and dangers of gambling and indeed now online gaming.

I am grateful for the opportunity to fracture some of the isolation that comes all too often with gambling addiction and many other manifestations of addictions.

A group of people sitting in a circle

The first step in change is acknowledging that there is a problem, what the problem is, and then realising that you simply cannot deal with all your problems yourself. It is imperative that young people realise that admitting you have a problem, and that you are not able to deal with it yourself, is not a sign of weakness but of courage. Issues around gambling and low-self-esteem are often so ingrained that we are not even consciously aware how they shape who we are and how we see ourselves.

This is why I believe it is important to share my story and experience as this can provide the identification needed in order to change and to inspire people to have the courage and confidence to reach out for help.

Why Is This Important?

Gambling and gaming are the fastest growing and potentially most devastating addictions.

500,000 children aged between 11 and 15 gamble weekly, and young people aged 16 to 23 are three times more likely to develop a gambling or gaming problem – problem gambling and gaming amongst young people is a growing concern.

In a digital age where 96% of our children and young people are thought to own a smartphone, gambling and online gaming has never been more accessible to young people, making it the fastest growing societal issue faced by our younger generation. With links to low attainment, truancy, poor mental health, anti-social behaviour and, in the extreme, criminal convictions or suicide, problem gambling among young people is not something we can ignore any longer.

Whilst mental health is ‘less of a taboo’ subject than it once was, there is still a lot of misunderstanding when it comes to the topic and still a long way to go in reducing the stigma attached, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers to support.