The Advisor Awards recognise the teams which excel in stop smoking support. Mark Gould looks at what set this year’s winner and runners up apart from the other services.
The entries for this year’s Advisor Awards have demonstrated a real capacity to look beyond the four walls of their own organisations to engage with hard-to-reach groups. Winners Smokefree West Sussex had the novel idea of partnering with local mini-cab firms to target male Asian smokers. Their mobile unit also enabled the service to team up with NHS, fire service and local government partners, including a highly popular event with trading standards officers, who brought along Scamp the spaniel who sniffs out illicit tobacco on licensing raids.
Judge Dr Alex Bobak, The Advisor’s GP advisor, said; ‘I absolutely loved the fact that they are trying to attract the whole range of hard-to-reach clients and were extremely flexible in the way they went about it. And they are baulking national trends in terms of increased footfall. They were particularly clever in the way that they targeted taxi drivers, a group with high levels of smoking, catching them when they were in the office.’
He also stressed that the same model could be replicated across the country. ‘Get in touch with your local taxi companies to see if they are up for it,’ he advises.
Dr Bobak also praised runners-up Warwickshire Stop Smoking In Pregnancy Service for allowing expectant mothers and midwives to shape a service that is ‘user and deliverer friendly’. And he said second runner up Help2change Shropshire, who set up a telephone and text service to offer extra support to pregnant women and their families, should be commended for delivering flexibility and innovation ‘with a lot of hard work and no extra funding’.
The judges, who also included Jo Glasscock, the team leader of last year’s winners Gloucestershire NHS Stop Smoking Services, and Fiona Dobbie from the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies at Stirling University, were also keen to praise other entries that didn’t make the top three.
NHS Kent Stop Smoking was praised for its work in prisons and partnering with veterinary surgeries to raise awareness of the harmful effects of second-hand smoke on pets, and informing owners of how they can get in touch for advice on quitting.
All three judges felt Quit4Life in Hampshire deserved special mention for their project with hostels targeting homeless people, one of the hardest groups to access, and which also considered weight and alcohol issues.
And Yorkshire Smokefree Sheffield got a pat on the back for it ingenious psychology, playing on the concerns of image conscious teenagers, it developed a factsheet for local schools explaining how smoking can damage their looks.