Inch by inch

Inch by inch

The 2017 ASSIST FM Conference hosted its largest exhibition and a stellar line-up of speakers when colleagues met up in Glasgow.

It was a record breaking year for the ASSIST FM national conference, which is fitting since the theme was ‘Record Breakers’. The conference, held at the Glasgow Hilton on 24th-25th August, saw the largest exhibition in ASSIST’s history, and the largest amount raised for the conference’s nominated charity – this year’s raffle raised over £3,000 for Down’s Syndrome Scotland.

A key element of this year’s conference was the launch of ASSIST’s national obesity campaign, Inch by Inch for Scotland. The campaign is aimed primarily at families from low income areas across Scotland and was created in response to a challenge by Dr Catherine Calderwood, chief medical officer of Scotland at last year’s ASSIST FM Conference. There is a growing disparity between the richest and poorest in Scotland, and obesity and its effects are firmly establishing themselves as a marker of poverty.

Inch by Inch for Scotland is about making small lifestyle challenges. It’s about doing easy exercises. It’s about cooking simple, tasty meals. It’s about saving money. It’s about doing things inch by inch, little by little.

Obesity related illnesses are costing Scotland approximately £4.6bn. The annual cost of type 2 diabetes to NHS Scotland is £800m. In Scotland in 2014, 65% of adults were classed as overweight, while28% were classed as obese. Today, 31% of children are overweight and 17% are obese. One of the most worrying statistics is that obesity is rising alarmingly within the most deprived, low-income owners.

For this campaign, ASSIST has created content aimed at this target market – many campaigns in the past have been aimed at middle class families. Recipes have included ingredients that are featured in supermarkets but not in local convenience shops. Many ingredients are also too expensive for people in low income areas.

Throughout the initial 16 months of the Inch by Inch for Scotland campaign, ASSIST will be issuing challenges to people to take part – both exercise and food-based. Content will be online and on social media channels.

The campaign launched officially on 7th September at Portobello High School in Edinburgh.

“Scotland has one of the worst records in the world with regard to obesity,” said Alistair. “We want to change that. Not by promoting faddy diets or by making people take on challenges that they find too hard or boring! Inch by Inch for Scotland is about making small lifestyle changes. It’s about doing a little exercise wherever you can – you won’t need equipment or to ‘dress up’ for the gym.

“It’s also about cooking simple recipes that will save you money. It’s about doing things inch by inch, little by little. You can do one challenge. You can do them all. It’s up to you. Where you can, when you can.”

Speakers at the Conference tied into this theme. Hosted by Alison Walker, the first day’s speakers included: Dr David Caesar, deputy chief medical officer of Scotland; Rhona Shepherd of Red Sky Management, Dr Andrew Murray, GP and sports medicine consultant at the University of Edinburgh and the European Tour Golf; and Brian Costello from Headstrong. They all took elements of the Inch by Inch for Scotland theme and wove them into their presentations.

Alan Cunningham from Totalize Media, ably assisted by Alistair McIntyre, national chair of ASSIST FM, launched the campaign on day two of the conference.

Müller Milk Ingredients were the main sponsors of the Conference and sponsors of awards included Spaceright, CRB Cunninghams and McCain.

Alistair McIntyre said: “The feedback we had was that this was the best ASSIST FM Conference ever. The speakers were excellent, the exhibition was fantastic, and the Gala Dinner and awards were enjoyable for everyone. One of the major items that we launched was the Inch by Inch for Scotland campaign and I think all our members and partners are excited about what lies ahead for this campaign. An obesity campaign challenging a nation is probably the first time anything like this has been attempted anywhere.”

Alistair handed over his national chair role to Keith Breasley of Fife Council, but he will be staying on in an ambassadorial role for the Inch by Inch for Scotland campaign for the next year.

Content for the Inch by Inch for Scotland campaign can be found at, on Facebook and inchbyinchforscotland, and on Twitter at @inchbyinchscot.

Recognising the industry

The ASSIST National Awards were held during the conference gala dinner.

Cleaning Team of The Year
Patna Campus, East Ayrshire Council

Catering Team of The Year
Linnvale Primary School, West Dunbartonshire Council

School Crossing Patroller of the Year
Robert Lamont, Doonfoot Primary School, South Ayrshire Council

Scottish School Cook of The Year
Lynn Ellington, Aberdeen City Council

Runner Up
Nicola Ralston, North Ayrshire Council

Third Place
Tracey Biggs, Scottish Borders Council

Council Innovation of the Year
West Lothian Council

Supplier Innovation of the Year
Alliance Scotland

National Chair Award
Scottish Borders Management Team
and Lorna Aitken, Education Scotland

Primary School BEBL AWARD
Doune Primary, Stirling Council

Secondary School BEBL AWARD
Lochgelly High, Fife Council

Get moving!

As part of the Inch by Inch for Scotland campaign there will be content online for schools to get involved with. They include:

• Exercise videos – easy 10-minute routines that anyone can do that are based on NHS-approved exercises.
• Recipe cooking videos – these will start will meals that can be made in a microwave and all ingredients will be available in local convenience shops and will be as simple as possible.
• Videos that show people who have overcome their own challenges and examples of successful programmes and activities.

As the campaign goes on, the exercises will become a little bit more complex and the recipes will utilise more ingredients. However, the campaign will not move away from the core message and the challenges will not get too difficult or expensive.