collective voice

Thanks for dropping by our blog page. Our team of over 60 full-time experts use the latest thinking in behavioural design and enablement via our people-shaped methodology to Make Better Happen for individuals, organisations and communities. Our specialisms of applied behavioural insights, design through co-creation and leading-edge social marketing and engagement are at the core of all that we do. Our mission is to be part of a society that is well, confident and resilient. If we can help you take a journey to be your best self, please call us on 0845 5193 423 - our promise to you is that we never settle for second best.

Making every day 'No Smoking Day'

March 7, 2018 14:22

The ‘taa-daa!’ moment of deciding to make a lifestyle change can be so exciting – we’re making a promise in that moment to be our Best in the future, and to achieve the things that are important to us. If only it was that simple, eh?! Busy lives and hectic schedules can leave our motivation levels feeling a little deflated, and before we know it, that goal feels out of reach again. So, how can you keep yourself motivated and on track for your smoke-free future?

Tip 1: Take inspiration from others, but don’t compare your journeys too much

There are many roads to success, and Best-You is here to help you find your Best path. Whether you’re using a pre-planned route, relying on your Sat Nav or taking the scenic route, we will all get there at our own pace. If your colleague has given up smoking for good or your friend is doing really well on their smoke-free journey, try and look at the positives. Celebrate their successes with them, but don’t be unfair to yourself. Instead, you could ask them to share any tips that have helped them along the way.

Tip 2: Make your goal known

At Best-You, we firmly believe in the power of support networks. Small steps like sharing a goal with those close to you can help to make it feel a little more ‘real’. By announcing your goal, you are letting people know that you’ve taken a massively positive step forward in taking control of your own health and wellbeing. It will also reduce the likelihood of people offering you cigarettes or asking too many questions (especially early on in your journey, where the temptation to return to smoking will be at its highest).

Tip 3: Still take the break, just without the fag

Habit is a large part of smoking culture. There are so many kinds of smokers, but a common theme amongst the Best-You community is that smoke-breaks can be seen as a bit of time to yourself, away from all the chaos. Time alone to think is so important for our wellbeing; to make sure your health is benefiting too, take the break but without the cigarette. Away from all the smoke (literally), you will be able to focus on the things that are important to you.

Tip 4: Remember why you’ve made your decision

Your reasons for quitting are personal to you. In your moments of doubt, try and focus on the benefits of becoming smoke-free. You could even try writing down the reasons on a post-it note and carrying it around with you. If you’re feeling the urge to smoke, take a look at your note and remind yourself of what an amazing future you have ahead of you as a non-smoker.

Tip 5: Don’t write yourself off

This is your journey. If you were in a car and took a left instead of a right at the end of a road, would you give up the journey altogether? The chances are you wouldn’t, especially if the destination was a place you really wanted to arrive at. We like to think of smoking journeys in the same way. Sometimes, with the best will in the world, life can get in the way and we can have slip ups along the way. The important thing to focus on is that these slip ups are exactly that. Smoking is not your norm now – don’t let any slip ups demotivate you or discourage you from achieving your smoke-free future.

Best-You is a free community made up of 1000s of people just like you – each on their own journey. Why not join today? As well as being able to set goals and track your progress, you can share stories with others and support them on their journeys too. From smoking, physical activity and sleep through to hydration and healthy weight, there’s something for everyone. Don’t miss out!

The five stages of smoking cessation

December 13, 2016 11:00

The five stages of grief are said to be denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Quitting smoking has its equivalent stages.


This is the feeling that all will be well. At this point, smoking is engrained in your life. You are coping with it and can quit at any time.  It’s easy to think of all of the smokers who don’t have any health issues. We’ve all heard of someone who was a heavy smoker and lived to over 100.

All of the above just need to be challenged with evidence and common sense.

It’s true that not all COPD sufferers smoked, but smoking does drastically increase your chances of developing COPD. Try breathing in and out through a straw for two minutes – that’s how COPD feels.


This is the start of something good – you know that you should do something about smoking, but you’re not sure how to make the change. You know for sure that it takes so much willpower, which is something your stressful job won’t allow for.

Modern lifestyles and busy schedules mean we’re getting less ‘me time’. When will you get enough time to do something for yourself?

Those feelings of frustration are a direct response to closed thinking. It’s similar to looking at a magnificent vista and only seeing the farm gate. Set a goal, make a plan and stick to it.


‘What if’ - two great words to start a bargaining session.

“What if I cut down to just five a day?”

“What if I only smoke at work?“

”What if I change to roll-ups?”

This is like a bad episode of Deal or No Deal – there’s no winner in this game. All of the boxes have something nasty inside and there is no banker trying to outsmart you. Your only option is to wait until the last box opens, and that may not be the one you bargained on.


“All of my friends smoke.”

“The boss smokes and that’s when the best decisions are made.”

"That last fag means I will never smoke again, and I quite liked it really.”

“Giving up would be really hard and nobody knows what this feels like for me.”

The feeling of loss is quite natural. You have given up one of the things you thought defined you. The fag shed was the place where you’d have casual conversation while smoking. It was a comfortable space - away from the desk or the machine – and it was a place to relax.

Think again. This is Britain. Most of the time it’s raining or it’s freezing, usually both.

Look around the next time you’re standing in your cold and damp fag shed, wrapped up in your coat which you constantly drape over the radiator trying to get it dry enough before your next cig break. You’re missing out on conversations with all of your non-smoking friends who don’t have to stand outside shivering from the cold.

You are never alone in this. Smoking does not define you, and it never has. You are now part of the non-smoking majority. Only a fool would trade health for five minutes outside in the rain.

The majority of society are non-smokers; they’ve either never smoked, or they’ve given up. These are your people now. You are amongst friends.


This is defined as great happiness and exhilaration. It’s a feeling of joy that’s matched only by the relief felt when achieving a goal.

People who quit can’t wait to tell you about it - about how it feels to be free and how glad they are that they took the first step. You too will be like them.

Remember your cravings for what they were: disruptive.

 Remember the smell for what it was: disgusting.

 Remember the taste for what it was: dreadful.

Come over to the sunny side of the street and feel the weight lift from your shoulders. Alright, I may have gone metaphor happy, but in reality you will be glad you got here.

There you have it - five stages of quitting smoking. If any of them resonate with you, remember that we all experienced them to some extent when we quit.

Don’t be afraid of them. Know them for what they are - just paving stones on the path to a smoke-free life.

-          Les Jackson, ex-smoker.

National No Smoking Day 2016

March 9, 2016 09:09

Today is national No Smoking Day; I was around for the first one all those years ago when it was treated as a mildly amusing joke.

The tobacco culture had a real grip on society, and being a non-smoker was quite an oddball thing -unless you were of the sporting variety. Health for health’s sake hadn’t taken off just yet, while the only nods to general fitness were “The Green Goddess” and “Mad Lizzie” on Breakfast TV - just for the girls, you understand.

There was no information about men’s health at all. 70% of men smoked, as well as “keeping fit” with football and rugby which was often followed by several pints and a pack of fags in the evening. Sporting events were routinely sponsored by tobacco giants. Meanwhile, women were targeted with chic cigarettes which were often slim and liquorice paper wrapped, giving a look of elegance when held in a certain way. This aesthetic was advertised everywhere from magazines, billboards and newspapers to TV and cinema advertising. Women’s sport still hadn’t caught on with the advertisers.

I was working in despatch at a very large factory employing vastly more women than men, mostly in repetitive routine manual work. It was the stuff that 1970s robots couldn’t do. Most of these women smoked and their lives revolved around the break bell, and of course the cigarette that accompanied the tea. Men would be under the same influence of time but their machines kept the clock ticking. You would be relieved to have a break as the machines kept going. It was repetitive, manual and controlled. It wasn’t a break - it was a fag break seen as part of the working day.

Thankfully, those days have gone and more often than not, we now tend to look to a healthier option. Smoking prevalence has plummeted since those far off tobacco filtered days. However, when we look at the data we find that routine manual workers still have the highest proportion of smokers today. Women have by and large quit or taken up the habit less quickly than men, but in the under 30s it is still stubbornly higher than average. Women in lower income employment and the unwaged are the higher proportion of that group.

We still have a long way to go and today it couldn’t be easier. Getting help to quit is only a matter of asking. The internet will give you all of the stop smoking services in your area. Stop4Life operates in workplaces, colleges and community venues, ensuring that the help you need is readily available in your busy lifestyle. Nicotine replacement therapy and all of the support you need comes from our advisors. With a solid support system, you are four times more likely to quit than going it alone. Our own will guide you and help with tracking your success. It is just a matter of taking the first step.

We have come a long way from the 70s and 80s; your smoking habit could well be history if you take one step more.

-        Les

For more information contact Les Jackson via or 0151 647 4700

Health Smart Programme Case Study

December 10, 2015 16:45

Health Smart Programme Case Study

Rochdale Borough Council commissioned ICE Creates to deliver a borough wide Health Smart programme across Heywood, Middleton, Rochdale and Pennines.

The programme was set to support RMBC’s core priority in the Public Health Outcomes Framework (Domain 4) to reduce premature mortality and encompassed a Health Champions recruitment and training programme, full engagement and communications campaign and in-depth programme evalution.

Read more.... Health Smart Programme Case Study







For more information please call Paul Williams on 0151 647 4700 or email


Stoptober Halfway

October 12, 2015 16:54

Stoptober HalfwayAs you reach the two week milestone on your Stoptober smoke free journey, you may be feeling that things are getting more challenging rather than easier. Although it can be tricky, motivation and determination are often high as you navigate your way through your first few days smoke free. As the days go on, the part of the brain that wants its regular doses of nicotine begins to realise that this change is for good. As a stop smoking adviser I see many people, often with similar withdrawal symptoms, including:

  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Restlessness and disturbed sleep
  • Headaches and difficulty concentrating
  • Increased appetite and possible weight gain
  • Strong urges to smoke.

This is normal; your brain wants you to smoke, it has become used to it and when you say no, it uses whatever means it can to try and get you to smoke… but stay strong! The only way to break the addiction to nicotine is to be 100% smoke free – even a single puff can wake up the part of the brain that you are working so hard to send to sleep. By resisting every urge to smoke, you will find that over the next couple of weeks it will get easier and the cravings will become less frequent and significantly weaker.

When you feel the urge to smoke, you want to stop those cravings DEAD in their tracks:

D – Delay: say you’ll wait an hour. It’s surprising how quickly the feeling passes and is no longer on your mind.

E – Escape: the situation that is tempting you to smoke. Whether it is stressful or social, make your excuses and leave… they’ll understand.

A – Avoid: in the first few tricky weeks, it is key to avoid those occasions that you know will be a challenge. It won’t need to be forever, but just for the time being it may be best to forego situations where you know it will be difficult to say ‘no’.

D – Distract: this is one of the main tools in your stop smoking toolbox. If you feel the urge to smoke then do something else. Take the dog out, make a cup of tea, call a friend, do a crossword, wash up – anything that will distract you, even if just for five minutes as this is often long enough for the feeling to subside, so that you can carry on with your day.

Don’t forget, if you are stopping smoking, your stop smoking adviser is always there to give you advice and support in managing urges to smoke, as well as other withdrawal symptoms.

Visit to share your experiences, track your success and get more tips and motivation for your stop smoking journey.

For more information or to access support you can contact Sue Pretty on 07912 290653 or at