Pam Bothwell (right) with Margaret Birch (left) who helps Pam run the Kick It programme in Wormwood Scrubs Prison.
Former cancer nurse Pam Bothwell started working in smoking cessation in 2008 and since then has helped over 500 people in west London quit. When she began working in north Fulham the quit rate was 51 per cent and this has steadily increased to 62 per cent.
According to her nominator Simon Nadolski from Kick It, Pam has almost single-handedly achieved 10 per cent of the service’s 2012/13 target, and is not even a full-time employee. ‘Pam is a pleasant and positive worker, a yes-person, and unstoppable when she sets her mind to a task,’ he says.
Pam offers one-to-one stop smoking services at two GP surgeries where she tailors each session to the client’s needs. She also leads a group session at another venue. In the group sessions, Pam ‘will adopt different approaches, finding ways to connect with the clients no matter how quirky a method it is … drawing people into the community and giving them the opportunity to shine’, Simon explains.
In her sessions, Pam does not always begin talking about smoking, keeping the atmosphere fun and humorous, allowing the clients to begin talking about their quitting when they are comfortable with it. She’s employs many methods, including stress management and relaxation techniques, and even an art session where the clients are encouraged to draw their feelings about quitting and the journey they are taking.
Pam also works at Wormwood Scrubs Prison and says she finds great satisfaction in helping a prisoner quit, as it improves their self-esteem and confidence. She wants to increase her work with the probation services as well, so that she can continue to see previous inmates after their release from prison. She believes that seeing a familiar face during this time of difficult transition will be particularly supportive.
In the future, Pam is keen to link with services in other boroughs to compare different initiatives, particularly in the prison and probation services, and to spend more time working with youth, to help young people manage the stress and peer pressure while growing up which can lead them into smoking. She believes it is important to find the positives when working with adolescents, encouraging them to be a real person and not just a created image.
Pam describes one of her most rewarding working moments as an experience she had when out in Fulham offering information and signing up interested people for a preliminary session. There was a group of young teenagers who were using the CO reading machine, checking each other’s current levels of carbon monoxide with youthful curiosity. While they told her that they had not started smoking, they had unusually high levels typical of a light smoker. One of the boys proceeded to hand over his cigarette packet and lighter, with the promise that he would never, ever smoke again. For Pam that was an amazing moment, to see the change come over that boy.