Top row left to right the people are as follows: Aarun Taylor, Kenneth DeMesa, Val Mills, Clare Hodsdon, Zia Ullah, Karrie Garrett, Anne Cumberland.

Bottom row left to right: Bernie Hillyard, Linda Cole, Alan Monk

Team runner up – Buckinghamshire Smokefree Support Service

Buckinghamshire Smokefree Support Service (BSSS) was established in 2002 and is a very innovative and creative service. One of its most successful recent projects is an initiative to engage with our local gypsy and traveller community.

There is anecdotal evidence that smoking prevalence is high in gypsy and traveller communities.  Buckinghamshire has a number of permanent traveller sites (mainly based in the south) with an estimated population of 1500 gypsies and travellers, including 450 children.  The reasons for smoking within these communities are fundamentally the same as for any other community, parental smoking, peer pressure, a perceived coping mechanism, etc.

Buckinghamshire Smokefree Support Service developed a project to raise awareness of the health and social effects of smoking within the gypsy and traveller community and improve their access to the smoking cessation support the service offered.  Multi-agency involvement has been invaluable in building trust between the service and the community representatives.  It took several months and quite a lot of meetings with associated agencies to gain a rapport with this community, because their past experience of official authorities had made them wary and suspicious of motives for engaging with them.  Trust was developed through health promoting events.

Several smoking cessation champions were trained within the gypsy and traveller community in smoking cessation brief intervention and motivational interviewing. These champions were provided with specifically developed culturally relevant visual resources to support them in their interactions within their community, where literacy levels are often lower than average.

Eight women attended the training, including representatives from the traveller support charity One Voice.  Packs were produced to support these women in their role as a smoking cessation champion. These packs include photo cards for raising issues around smoking, such as smoking and pregnancy, secondhand smoke, cost, stress/boredom relief, smoking and pets. The packs, which are small enough to fit in a shoulder bag, also include a basic CO monitor, smoking leaflets, and the GASP cigarette smokebox detailing what is in cigarette smoke.

A representative of One Voice said about the packs: ‘The packs are great, easy to transport, very informative and generate discussion points, I have used the packs with young people in a group setting. I used the photo cards to generate discussion on different effects cigarettes have on others. It will be an invaluable asset for our work with families. I am planning to use the packs at a young mums, women’s meeting to raise awareness of how smoking is seen as an acceptable and safe form of addiction until you realise the contents within cigarettes.’

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.

Judge Alex Bobak, a GP in Wandsworth, south London

In other areas, the service has focused on attempting to engage more health professionals. A two-hour workshop was developed and carried out between November 2011 and October 2012.  The aim of this workshop was to introduce staff to brief intervention and motivational interviewing techniques.  Resources in the form of fact sheets and important messages were developed to go alongside this training, on subjects including smoking, alcohol use, exercise and healthy eating. At the time the award was entered, 59 people had accessed this training from a range of healthcare professions, including community services.

Junior doctors have also been encouraged to sit in on clinics to get a feel for how the service supports clients to quit smoking, impart information on the dangers of smoking and the products that are available to them.