Skilled for health doncaster

Skilled for Health helps Doncaster Mum quit smoking

A Doncaster mum has an extra special reason to celebrate quitting smoking after she attended an NHS programme aimed at improving people’s health.

For, as well as a boost to well-being, the cash that Gayle Padley has saved by not lighting up is helping her pay to travel to Paris to see seven-year-old daughter Alison dance at Disneyland!

Gayle, 32, a part-time delivery driver, and husband Darran, a warehouse supervisor, of Balby, will make the trip in October when Alison performs with a group of young dancers from the Allegro Theatre Dance Academy.     

Gayle is among hundreds of local people who have benefited from the Skilled for Health programme aimed at breaking down barriers that prevent people understanding health information and how they can access services. 

She took a course at the Helping Hands Community House, in Woodfield, which gave her the advice and motivation she needed to pack up her habit of up to 20 cigarettes a day, costing more than £150 a month.

Gayle commented:  ‘The course was brilliant. By making information easy to understand and interesting, it really helped those of us taking part to think about our lifestyles and ways of making improvements.

I’m really pleased I’ve managed to quit smoking as I’ve smoked since I was 19 and tried a few times before.  More than two months on, I feel much healthier and happier and I’m really looking forward to the trip.’

Skilled for Health is a national programme that helps people of all ages and backgrounds to improve their health while at the same time giving participants the chance to boost their reading, writing and arithmetic skills.

Research suggests that difficulties in reading, understanding and using healthcare information can be a real barrier to good health. 

Doncaster is one of just a handful of areas pioneering the scheme around the UK and so far around 400 people from across the borough have taken part.

Those who sign-up are offered the chance to attend sessions on a range of health topics such as healthy eating, exercise and first aid and can choose the most appropriate to their own needs.

The Workers’ Educational Association recently ran four hugely successful courses as part of the project and these sessions were completed by over 60 people. Organisers reported that participants had a better understanding of living a healthy lifestyle and felt more confident about accessing health services.  Some students are now going on to do literacy and numeracy qualifications or college courses. 

In June, Italian-born celebrity chef Aldo Zilli – a supporter of healthy eating – visited Doncaster Racecourse where he met local participants in Skilled for Health and highlighted the benefits of the scheme.

Dene Naylor, from NHS Doncaster, who manages the Doncaster Skilled for Health project, said: ‘Gayle’s success highlights how much of a positive impact the programme can have. We’d like to encourage more local people who are looking to improve their health and basic skills to take part.’ 

Anyone who wants further information is urged to call Jennie Cavanagh on 0779 502 1783 or email

The above article has been reproduced on this website with the permission of Doncaster PCT.