Maggie Milne is one of the Service Managers here at Yorkshire Smokefree. She’s worked for the South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust for a number of years, but her earliest experience of the stop smoking service was not as an employee but as a client. The service became an inspiration to her; not only did it improve her health but it also shaped her career. Over the years Maggie has worked with hundreds of Sheffield residents to help them become smoke-free. Here’s her story…
My 20-year journey…
I was a heavy smoker, smoking up to 30 cigarettes per day, and I finally kicked the habit 20 years ago. I began smoking when I was in my early teens and it wasn’t really a big deal back then. Smoking was the norm, on buses, in the home, in the cinema, everywhere.
Like most smokers, I had tried to quit many times but until 2000 there were no stop smoking programmes or support groups. I was intrigued by people I knew that were stopping smoking.
I contacted the stop smoking service and I was enrolled in a group that was running locally. I nervously turned up to the session and I was one of about 25 people. We were all introduced to each other and one by one we told our stories and after a couple of weeks we all became more comfortable with each other and very competitive, we would all turn up week after week to blow into the CO monitor, all feeling really excited as we had stopped smoking, sharing our ups and downs from the previous week.
“At the end of the course I was delighted to call myself an EX-SMOKER and I was determined to stay smoke-free for good.”
I was invited back to share my quit journey with a new group that was starting. I really enjoyed speaking about my experience and was happy to share my ups and downs of my quit journey. Six months later I trained to become a stop smoking adviser and became a volunteer, helping run groups and sessions. It was really great to be able to give something back. It was such a positive experience to be able to reassure people that they could quit smoking even if they had tried lots of times before. I felt confident discussing the benefits of stop smoking medication, and my own personal tips for dealing with triggers and habits.
After a couple of years, I applied for a development role with the service and was successful. This job was mainly working with doctors and other health care professionals to promote the service and discuss how to better refer patients for support. From this, I went on to be a specialist advisor with the service, running groups, one to one sessions and training sessions for other people to become stop smoking advisers and in 2014 I became the manager of the service for Sheffield. I am able to support and develop support programmes that will continue to support smokers to begin their own quit journey.
A request from Maggie…
Volunteering opportunities are available within Yorkshire Smokefree so if you feel that you would like to help someone to stop smoking then please give us a call on 0800 612 0011. It could change your life too!