During 2005/6, Becky Hirst worked with the Camden Primary Care Trust (part of the National Health Service) and Greenlight Pharmacy in North London to work with the local Irish community in lowering smoking rates.
The Irish population have high rates of smoking yet a low uptake of smoking cessation services. On identifying this, the Camden Stop Smoking Service recruited Becky Hirst to help them to work with the local community to identify ways to provide stop smoking support that was more culturally appropriate than the traditional services provided at the local hospital.
The work included targeting the area of Kilburn which had a high percentage of Irish residents. Intensive work within the local community included work with local community groups, the catholic church, the bingo hall and shop keepers.
To provide education and more culturally appropriate and accessible services, Becky Hirst set up –
– A ‘Quit & Win’ program at the Kilburn Bingo Hall, providing a stop smoking support group after the afternoon bingo session. This was offered in preparation for the smoking ban which was soon to be introduced in the UK- Working with staff from an Irish Men’s Hostel to provide stop smoking support to men waiting for housing to become available. The group proved very popular and provided a strong social support for general issues as well as reducing smoking
– Setting up a stop smoking support group at the local Catholic church, which was actively promoted by the Priest during his sermons and newsletter
– Working with the famous London Irish rugby team to promote the services available on Kilburn High Street as part of National No Smoking Day
– Gaining press coverage and advertising in the Irish Post, the most popular print media for the Irish population living in London