Getting Hooked: Get Hooked on Fishing, Angling and
Youth Inclusion
by Dr. Adam Brown

A new independent research report, released today by Substance, has highlighted the contribution that fishing can make in activity-based youth projects and programmes which target young people at risk.

The report, Getting Hooked: Get Hooked on Fishing, Angling and Youth Inclusion, by Dr. Adam Brown, focuses on one leading example – the Get Hooked on Fishing Charitable Trust. Angling, says the report, has most to offer when a developmental approach, such as that in the GHOF scheme, is placed at the heart of their programme of teaching young people to fish.

Released on the day of the Get Hooked On Fishing conference in Durham, the report suggests that angling, when tied to an educational, relationship-building approach, can help young people who may be underachieving at or excluded from school, at risk of crime or substance misuse, or causing ‘anti-social behaviour’.

The research, which began in 2005 and was part funded by the Countryside Agency and the Home Office, also says that angling can offer something different to mainstream sports in youth programmes and offers considerable potential as an educational tool.

The Executive Summary is attached to this press release.

The report is available as a free download from www.substance.ccop

Get Hooked On Fishing
Anne Moyle, Chief Executive. 0772 186 786 ;

Dr Adam Brown, Director, Substance
Tel: 07974 963 020
Substance Office: 0161 244 541 / 5457 
Executive Summary

1. Angling – Context

Angling has one of the highest levels of participation of any ‘sport’ or leisure activity in the UK, with nearly 4 million participants. Participation of females and BME populations is however very low. Bodies such as the Environment Agency are making significant efforts to increase participation of all groups, with priorities in these areas.

Angling is an activity which can generate both long term engagement, with many committing to the sport ‘for life’ and one which can lead to many other areas of interest and skill development.

It is also an activity which can be very attractive to young people although some traditional ‘routes’ to participation have declined (such as familial).

Angling offers considerable potential as a diversionary and developmental activity for young people. However, it is one which, until recently, has received little attention from policy makers, government departments or social agencies and it has been to date largely excluded from debates around the sport and social inclusion agendas.

Angling has an extremely large literature, yet unlike other high participation leisure activities, there is very little academic or social science research literature.

Part of the reason for this ‘exclusion’/omission is because of its lack of status as a ‘sport’ and because it is one which, until recently, has been poorly represented within policy circles at a national level. This is now being addressed by the creation of a ‘Whole Sport Plan’ by the Joint Angling Development Bodies; and through the promotion of the benefits of fishing by the EA and other organisations.

2. Angling – Potential

Recreational fishing is an activity which, if delivered properly in a developmental approach, can offer something new and ‘different’ as an engagement activity to other, more mainstream sports.

The need to remain quiet and concentrated, but with moments of extreme excitement, allows a number of benefits in the context of youth inclusion work, including opportunities for relationship building that do not occur in the same way.

Fishing is an important alternative to team sports because it is:
• A less hi-octane activity than, for example, football
• An activity which is an individual pursuit but one which also offers communality.
• An activity which often takes place out of normal, urban environments, but also one which offers specific potential for rural communities.
• A means of engaging young people – often when ‘traditional’ means of ‘learning’ sport have broken down

Fishing is a learning process that involves problem solving, acquiring skills, and the development of other interests. As such it can act as a gateway to ongoing personal development beyond a simplistic ‘diversionary’ approach.

The potential of angling as an engagement activity is only fully realised within a developmental approach which can lead to a building of relationships and broadening of young people’s horizons.

3. The Get Hooked On Fishing Approach

Get Hooked on Fishing is a national charity established to provide opportunities to fish, within a learning environment, especially for young people at risk of exclusion. Established by Mick Watson in Durham in 2000, it has received support from a wide variety of local and national organisations. It has led the way for fishing as an engagement and developmental activity for young people.

GHOF has grown from an experimental single project site to a charitable trust with ten projects around the country. It has demonstrated the potential of a developmental approach to angling tuition for young people ‘at risk’ and has won widespread praise for its work.

The GHOF approach is based around a three-tier course delivered to groups of young people. Its modular approach seeks not only to build up skills in angling and knowledge of fish and fishing, but a progression from engagement to empowerment.

The incremental approach also allows those who have acquired skills and knowledge to share expertise – including in informal ways. This creates opportunities for relationship building, skills development and peer mentoring.

Under new Chief Executive, Anne Moyle, board membership, governance structures and ‘back room’ paper work have all been reviewed and the Trust has oriented itself toward meeting governmental agendas around youth exclusion, maximising the benefits of its developmental approach.

Currently with 10 local projects the Trust has an objective of delivering 30 schemes over a 5 year period, extending the work nationally. The Trust requires significant resources if is to meet these objectives and although it has had considerable recent success in this regard, challenges remain.

Given a growing tendency to employ non-mainstream activities in youth inclusion work, there are considerable opportunities for Get Hooked On Fishing to expand its work and its offer.

The further development of accredited courses, volunteering, peer mentoring and improved monitoring and evaluation are key factors in determining the future of GHOF.