At a recent meeting of its Board, The Methodist Mission in Dunedin decided to stop accepting money from gambling trusts and casinos, because of concerns about the damage that gaming machines are doing in society. Last year the Christchurch Methodist Mission made headlines when it announced it would no longer seek grants from trusts funded by gambling money.
"The Methodist Mission is dedicated to supporting and challenging people into better futures" says general manager Laura Black, "and a lot of the gaming machine profits distributed to social services such as our own come straight from the pockets of problem gamblers."
Laura reports that something like half of New Zealand’s 23,500 gaming machines can be found in the poorest third of our neighbourhoods.
"In 2007 alone, there was a 10 percent rise in the number of calls to the Gambling Helpline, and its total client base was reported to have grown by 13 percent. The Methodist Mission works with families in Dunedin and the Clutha region, and a number of these families struggle with the impact of problem gambling."
When the Board of The Methodist Mission came to discuss the issue, the decision was clear. "Although there will be a financial impact for us, we would rather face that challenge, than undermine the integrity of our work" says Laura.
The Methodist Mission works with over 1,500 people a year through its Child & Family Services, Community & Social Services, and Approach Community Learning divisions.