A groundbreaking scheme in the Midlands, which was supported by the People’s Millions just over a year ago, has come to fruition.

Get Hooked on Fishing Midlands (GHOF), supported by a £50,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund will improve the quality of life for youngsters in South Birmingham, which includes those at risk of social exclusion and those who have a disability.

Rowheath Pool, in Bournville, Birmingham has been cleared out, fish stocks increased, an aeration system has been installed and pathways built for access to the new fishing platforms. The lake is now accessible for wheelchair users, making it a popular fishing spot.

GHOF MIDLANDS was born out of a Junior Fishing Club that was set up by Bournville Village Trust in 2000.  In one year alone, one hundred and sixteen young people, including those at risk from social exclusion, were referred to the project from a variety of sources, ranging from Youth Offending Teams, Police, Junior and Secondary schools and Parents. 

Andy Walker GHOF MIDLANDS Manager, seconded from Bournville Village Trust Community Department said: “Results from a survey undertaken to prove the effectiveness of the ‘Get Hooked on Fishing’ programme, has shown that South Birmingham benefits from an increase in school attendance, a rise in achievement and better behaviour from students who are on the project.”

Rowheath Pool sits alongside Rowheath Pavilion in Bournville, which was instructed by George Cadbury to be designed and built for the benefit of Cadbury workers and their families.  The Pavilion which was opened in July 1924 was used for balls and dinners.

In May this year, GHOF MIDLANDS undertook a netting operation which revealed that the fish in the lake were mainly small roach and larger carp.  The next task was to restore balance in the water.  Specialist advisors spread a natural biological agent across the whole water surface which worked on the sludge at the bottom of the pool.  Two floating agitators or small fountains helped to introduce more air into the water.  New fishing platforms were then installed on the banks and new pathways gave improved access to the poolside, particularly for wheelchair users.  Finally nearly 2,000 new fish were introduced to the pool.

In 2004 the Get Hooked on Fishing project won the ‘People’s Choice’ award, organised by Birmingham City Council, which celebrates good learning practice across the City. 

Bournville Village Trust helps support GHOF MIDLANDS by providing free office space which includes heating, lighting, stationary, telephones, etc.

Andy Walker said: “Bournville Village Trust supports many community projects. With the benefit of Big Lottery Funding, the ‘Get Hooked on Fishing’ project will help to keep youngsters off the street, and encourage them to become active in a worthwhile pursuit, which can lead to a lifetime of pleasure.”