The creation of new sea angling rods and reels and life-preservers to the North Wales Get Hooked on Fishing scheme has been called a welcome boost to engaging young people in positive use of leisure time.
Twelve Steadfast II Silver Surf sea rods donated by leading manufacturer LEEDA and eight GUL life-preservers donated by the charitable Dreamstore were presented to the Get Hooked on Fishing supervising team at the Colwyn Bay Sea Angling Club.
The donation of sea angling equipment will add to a range of supervised courses for young people that already include Coarse and Fly fishing.
The young people on the courses are usually referred from schools and Behavioural Support Units or Pupil Referral Units who are experiencing attention difficulties, are at risk of exclusion or perhaps at risk of offending.
The Get Hooked on Fishing Scheme is also used to reward young people who are seen to have made a positive effort to improvement, for example, when a young person has made a commitment to change to teaching staff.
Over the past four years around 120 young people have been participated in Get Hooked on Fishing. North Wales Get Hooked on Fishing is a partnership with schools, local education authorities and social services in Conwy and Denbighshire.
It was seed funded by a small grant from the Environment Agency. Other neighbouring counties have expressed an interest in joining the scheme.
Stephen Wood of the Youth Offending Team in Conwy, and a keen angler, has been involved with the scheme since its inception in 2002.
Commenting on the donation of the sea angling equipment he says: “North Wales Get Hooked on Fishing is not some hugely well funded scheme. We have very much relied on the goodwill of local fishing coaches, tackle shops and fisheries. We are still using the £5000 seed grant given to us by the Environment Agency in 2002.
“This is one scheme where the success is measured solely in the change in the lives of young people. We have seen young people who can’t sit still in class for 30 seconds sit and watch a fishing float for three hours: and this is in time carried back to the classroom.
“We have watched young people at risk of drifting into anti-social behaviour through lack of interest in anything, becoming keen anglers and using their leisure time constructively, with one or two examples of those young people returning to Get Hooked on Fishing to help other young people. It’s all relative, and we don¹t have a 100% success rate, but the benefits are definitely far outweighing the occasional disappointment.”
Delighted with the donation of new sea angling equipment are participants and partnership representatives: Mark Finn, Yvonne Boswell (Conwy LEA), Richard Burns, Wesley Roberts, James Wyatt-Jones, Eric Humphries (Welsh Course Angling Association, Official Coach), a Dreamstore representative along with Stephen Wood (Denbighshire YOT), Harry Wym-Owen (Welsh S&TA Coach), Daniel Jones (Conwy LEA), Simon O¹Hara, and Michael Davies.
Simon Henton, Managing Director of LEEDA and Chairman of the Angling Trades Association commented: “We have been delighted to provide equipment to North Wales Get Hooked on Fishing. The Angling Trade Association’s Tackle Pool is there for exactly this type of worthwhile scheme that encourages angling participation, especially with such great benefit through Get Hooked on Fishing. For LEEDA the satisfaction in donating this equipment comes from anticipating that there will be a young person who will experience their first Tight Line using a Steadfast II Silver Surf LEEDA rod on the North Wales coast.”
A Dreamstore spokesman said: “Dreamstore is keen to see anyone pick up a rod and use their recreational time constructively. We are very pleased to support a scheme such as North Wales Get Hooked on Fishing because it has worked hard on a limited budget and has shown how the time, energy, and commitment of a few can bring such consistent and sustained social benefit to an area. The focus on helping young people in Conwy and Denbighshire over recent years is to be highly commended, and the success can only be measured in the individual stories of positive change that have accrued since the inception of the scheme.”