“The programme has reignited my passion” Service users take on new angling hobby thanks to the support and encouragement of our Community Senior Health Instructor, Neil Bent.

In a transformative initiative funded by the Get Fishing Fund through the Angling Trust, a community-focused fishing programme successfully completed its 10-week run, leaving a lasting impact on participants and coaches alike.

The programme coordinator and Community Senior Health Instructor at the Trust, Neil Bent, detailed the extensive efforts that preceded the sessions, including the application for funding and the intricate planning with the Angling Trust. 

The challenging task of motivating and engaging service users required persistent communication, utilising phone calls, texts, and emails to emphasise the mental health benefits and overall positive experiences that fishing and outdoor activities could provide.

The programme, which commenced on 6 July 2023, after securing funding in April of this year, aimed to bring together individuals for therapeutic fishing sessions. The sessions were carefully planned and organised through pre-approval meetings with the Angling Trust. A crucial aspect involved recruiting qualified fishing coaches and identifying enthusiastic service users willing to participate.

Leigh, a BSMHFT service user, shared:

The programme has reignited my passion for angling and has become my therapy. I’ve even managed to get out and cast a line or two on my own, which would have been impossible before the programme because I’d lost myself.

Reflecting on the impact of the programme, one of the coaches said:

“It was really nice to see friendships form over the weeks. By the final session, the general atmosphere on the bank was brilliant, with plenty of banter between the lads, with everyone joining in and enjoying themselves. From a personal point of view, I feel privileged to have been a part of this programme and I have definitely learnt a lot along the way.”

Two service users, including Leigh, have continued their fishing journey independently. Their continued engagement summarise the success of the initiative in not only providing a recreational outlet but also fostering lasting connections and empowering individuals to pursue outdoor activities beyond the structured sessions.

Although the initial funding covered 10 sessions, there are plans to reapply for funding in the future, demonstrating a commitment to sustaining and expanding the positive impact on the community.

We can read more about the positive impact this programme made for Leigh on the Angling Trust’s Get Fishing Blog.