Gill Bent is called a ‘stop smoking advisor extraordinaire’ by her nominator, Paul Roberto from Warrington stop smoking services. He says she is a familiar and welcome face in local schools, ‘constantly thinking of new and fun ideas that will help young people kick the habit and encourage a healthier lifestyle’.
Gill has specialised in working with the children and young people for over ten years and is the only advisor in the Warrington service working exclusively with children and young people.
Paul says that this has been a hard task due to a lack of resources and particular challenges associated within this group. ‘For Gill, if she can help just one child or young person quit, it will have all been worthwhile,’ he says.
Both individual and team winners fully deserve their awards, Gill Bent for her inspirational youth work and the Sheffield Stop Smoking Midwife Service for achieving excellence with a notoriously difficult patient group.
A lot of her time has been spent helping local schools and colleges to hold workshops, where students can learn and understand the true dangers of smoking, getting involved by designing posters, and producing films about the hazards of smoking to promote to their classmates.
Gill also delivers brief intervention training to students enabling them to become stop smoking mentors amongst young people in schools and colleges in the area. Lately, she has also been delivering practical sessions in ‘Chemical Soup’ which highlight the dangers of certain chemicals found in cigarette tobacco.
She has encouraged many schools in the area to implement ‘smokefree schools’ policies which has also led to schools including tobacco education in their curriculums and also helping signpost young people and their families to the smoking cessation service for support. This has led to the introduction of the Warrington Smokefree School Awards, being held across schools and colleges in Warrington. So far 43 silver awards and four gold awards have been issued.
Gill has also worked with vulnerable children, most recently at Horizons, which is a special school for excluded students.
Sheila Cahill, tobacco control co-ordinator at Warrington Public Health Improvement Team, said: 'As a key member of the Warrington Smokefree Schools Awards Team, Gill Bent has been instrumental in helping to develop this innovative scheme. Gill's approach has always been professional when providing training, support and practical help to schools wanting to apply for award status as well as to those pupils and staff who want to stop smoking'.
Paul said that Gill’s ‘unflagging enthusiasm’ has been very infectious and that ‘it is an honour and a privilege’ for all in Warrington’s Smoking Cessation service to work alongside her. He added that Gill is always on call for her clients and colleagues and ‘will go above and beyond the call of duty to help out when cover is required’, including during the evenings and weekends.