A GAMBLING addict is setting up an anonymous support group for people with problems in the area.

Tom Emes said: "I have been addicted to gambling since I was about 19"

"Gambling has caused me no end of problems. I have got into debt through gambling, it caused problems a few years back which resulted in me no longer living with my children. About four years ago I was forced away from my children for reasons particularly to do with gambling. I have lost jobs because of complete de-motivation through losing heavily at gambling and not seeing the point of working anymore. I have suffered with depression and I have had suicidal times in my life. I almost thought the world would be a better place without me. It is a pretty dark place to be when you are in it."

"I have recently been looking into support for people with gambling problems and there's nothing locally for people to get together. I think the closest place is Cheltenham and lot people with gambling problems have got no money, or they can't afford to drive. A few years back there was a group in Worcester and I found that quite helpful, but that's closed down now."

Mr Emes, aged 34 who lives in Evesham attended evening college when he was was 31 and gained a level 3 qualification in counselling. He now wants to help other people with gambling problems.

"The strongest I have been was when I was attending these groups and listening to other peoples stories, people who have been through similar things, it makes me realise that I am not alone, it's not just me. Gambling is a common problem that people don't like to own up to."

"Having something local that is free is the best way to help people. It (gambling addiction) is an increasing problem in the UK and the best way for anyone to stop gambling is to talk about it, get it out of your head and share the experiences with someone else who might understand better than the people close to you who don't really understand gambling."

Mr Emes is not gambling at the moment and is receiving counselling from a company called GameCare, but he has to travel to Gloucester for it: "It is fine for me but not everyone can drive or afford the transport. A lot of people haven't got the time to do these things" said Mr Emes.

The first meeting will be on Monday, March 18 at 7:30 - 8:30 and meetings will be weekly at Wallace House Community Centre, Oat Street, Evesham.