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Holiday healthcare heroes: ‘I want to reduce the lost years of smokers’

Linda Robinson. Photo: ECCH

Linda Robinson. Photo: ECCH

ECCH

Throughout advent, we’re highlighting those who work hard throughout the year - and at Christmas - to keep Norfolk and Waveney’s health service ticking over.

This countdown of those we count on will focus on a different person or individual every day up until Christmas, celebrating our healthcare heroes.

ECCH Stop Smoking Service (Smokefree Norfolk)

Linda Robinson leads East Coast Community Healthcare’s (ECCH) Stop Smoking team in Great Yarmouth – with the help of her guide dog Arrow.

Arrow joins Linda, who has been partially sighted since the removal of a pituitary tumour six years ago, in every element of her work whether it is team meetings, advising clients or taking part in campaigns such national Stop Smoking Day or Stoptober.

Linda said: “Wherever I need to go he takes me safely. The rest of the team love him and people who want to give up smoking will come up to me and talk about dogs first because it makes them feel comfortable and then they’ll tell me they’d like help to quit.

“I think Arrow reduces stress for colleagues and clients. He lifts people’s spirits because he will play with them but the minute we go into business mode he will go straight under the desk and stay there. If I’m speaking to someone about smoking, he won’t pester them because he knows I’m talking about smoking.”

This year ECCH was awarded the contract to deliver a new smoking cessation service right across Norfolk, under the Smokefree Norfolk scheme which has been in operation for the past 16 years. ECCH’s teams offer a range of initiatives including running special quit clinics, supporting pregnant women to give up smoking, holding ‘best practice’ seminars for other health professionals as well as seeing clients on a one to one basis.

Linda feels being awarded the contract for the county is an endorsement of the success her team has previously achieved in Great Yarmouth. Once again this year they exceeded all their targets with 535 smokers in the town setting a quit date and 305 of those successfully stopping smoking.

Linda said: “I have always loved my job. I want to make a difference. I want to reduce the lost years of smokers so they can live healthy lives - to help them believe they can do it, like I did, because we all want to protect our wellbeing. Most of us want to find ways to protect our health rather than looking for treatment after problems arise. No one wants to take tablets to be well. You just want to be well. If you want help to quit, we won’t judge you - we’ll help you find a way.”

Contact Smokefree Norfolk on 0800 0854 113 or www.smokefreenorfolk.nhs.uk

• To read about other holiday health heroes, click on a door on the advent calendar above.

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