The ‘smoke free’ message will be promoted throughout the islands in a new and unique way thanks to a grant from NHS Western Isles to fund new kit for local football teams.
Smokefree Hebrides recently provided a grant of £6,000 to Lochs Sports and Recreation Club to fund football strips for the club’s football teams, banners to be displayed at competitions and football games, and team emblems; all of which have the Smokefree Hebrides logo on them, and will be used to promote and raise awareness of the services provided by Smokefree Hebrides.
The new football strips are being worn by members of the Under 14 League, both boys and girls, who play in matches throughout the Islands on a weekly basis. Girls take part in the Willowglen competition on an annual basis, which this year was played on April 21; with Lochs winning the trophy and looking resplendent in their fabulous new strips. They also take part in the Kemney Cup, Kirk Cup and other competitions throughout the year.
The team will be continuously promoting the Smokefree Hebrides smoking prevention messages along with the message of how to access support to quit smoking, at every event they compete in, by advertising the Smokefree Hebrides service on their strips. The young people offer literature and information at events and have volunteered at several Smokefree Hebrides campaigns including ‘The Christmas Lights Festival’. They will also be supporting Smokefree Hebrides at the Hebridean Celtic Festival later this summer.
NHS Western Isles Smoking Cessation Co-ordinator Joanne O’Donnell said: “We decided to provide a grant to Lochs Sport and Recreation Club to help prevent smoking uptake amongst our young people within the Western Isles.
“Lochs Sports and Recreation Club is highly motivated and very keen to promote key smoking prevention messages. We had previously delivered a peer support programme across the Western Isles in conjunction with trainers.”
As a result of the training completed by Lochs Sports and Recreation Club, Smokefree Hebrides was also invited by the Head Teacher of Lochs School to deliver further educational inputs with pupils and this is currently ongoing. The ‘Learning about Tobacco’ resource pack which ties in with the Curriculum for Excellence, is being used for training, which was successfully piloted in three primary schools across Lewis at the end of last year.
Smokefree Hebrides had previously sponsored a group of young people in the Southern Isles and they are still promoting the Smokefree service with the support of their excellent coach Mustapha Hocine, who is a great advocate of the prevention of smoking amongst young people.
Willie Morrison, Lochs Sports and Recreation Club Coach/Janitor, stated: “Football Strips are the most expensive items of any club; this sponsorship has been a tremendous asset to the club and we look forward to promoting the excellent work that Smokefree Hebrides carries out. The funding also provided banners which are now displayed permanently at Lochs football pitch and smaller ones which can be used at other venues. On behalf of the Management, Committee and members I would like to say that we are extremely grateful to the NHS Western Isles for this wonderful support.”
NHS Western Isles Chief Executive Gordon Jamieson said: “Prevention is the key to reducing young people smoking, and we need to communicate to young people just how deadly tobacco is. The vast majority of smokers wish they had never started and that is why it is so important to promote the messages of both smoking prevention and smoking cessation, particularly amongst younger generations. We are delighted to be working jointly with Lochs Sport and Recreation Club to spread the smoking prevention message to help us maintain a continued reduction in smoking prevalence amongst young people in the Western Isles.”