April is Stress Awareness Month, and as we head into spring, activities like fishing that encourage you to take time out are a great way to de-stress and relax in nature.
Barry, who is a now resident at the YMCA hostel in Knowsley, has had experiences of being homeless and has spent time living outdoors facing the elements, including living in the woods.
However thanks to support from a partnership between local community fishing organiser Ann Myers at the North West Angling Academy and the YMCA, residents of the Knowsley hostel have been introduced to fishing events at the local docks and parks.
This gave Barry, who is also a keen gardener, a focus to spend time in nature while being around other people.
“I enjoy seeing other people catching fish, and fishing makes me feel happier. It’s relaxing and therapeutic and I feel like I’ve got support” says Barry.
With the relaxation that comes with fishing, Barry also upholds a respect for nature that he lives by.
“It’s important to respect nature” he says. “You have to respect nature in order to make the most of its peace and quiet and calm.”
In a busy bustling city, finding calm in the hostel or sometimes in public spaces can sometimes be challenging but Barry manages to find moments of calm by the water while enjoying being connected to the fishing activities, and he hopes that it will continue. However as with traditional British weather, it’s clear that having the right kit is important for him to be able to enjoy fishing all year round.
“One thing some of us lack is warm waterproof jackets. You can easily spend a lot of time sitting still which can get cold.”
If you are able to donate waterproofs or pre-loved angling clothing to Barry and other YMCA residents, please email [email protected]
Kevin Waldron, who is a service manager at YMCA Together Liverpool, has seen first hand the impact of fishing on those who’ve attended from the hostel.
He says: “The fishing trips have helped the residents experience an improved mental wellbeing and it’s been a relaxing experience away from the hustle and bustle of the hostel environment.”
The partnership with the YMCA and also the Whitechapel centre in Liverpool was set up by Ann Myers, who runs the Liverpool-based North West Angling Academy that has a commitment to provide ‘Angling for ALL’, providing regional schools, colleges, homeless institutions, wellbeing and mental health organisations with appropriate angling opportunities for their charges.
Ann says the impact of a day’s angling is palpable. Speaking on the wider impact of the people she supports, Anne said:
“There are people who didn’t become homeless because they used substances, they used substances because they became homeless. When you ask them why, they say it numbs the pain. So, some just come out fishing for something to eat because we provide food and company. Some come and ‘fish’ but don’t even put bait on the hook. They’ll say, ‘it’s a bit quiet today’ but they’ll just sit there for hours. We know they’re not fishing; they know they’re not fishing but to everyone else it looks like they are. They simply say going fishing makes them feel free.”
The onward plan is for this to be a programme and an approach that, with the help of the Angling Trust and other authorities, could be extended beyond the north west and into other regions across the country. The NWAA, which has received a bursary from the Environment Agency for coaching qualifications, ican be the standard-bearer for others to follow, tap into and learn from. For more insights here and a potential route to national roll-out, read the Lines on the Water blog ‘Angling for Community Care’.
The Angling Trust has a great offer for anyone looking to improve wellbeing for themselves and their local communities. If you would like to find out more about setting up community fishing events or become a Get Fishing for Wellbeing partner, visit www.anglingtrust.net/getfishingforwellbeing
About Stress Awareness Month 2022: “Stress Awareness Month has been held every April since 1992 to raise awareness of the causes and cures for our modern stress epidemic. The last two years have been the most challenging we have faced and in 2020 our services were overwhelmed by people that are struggling and seeking support. This year our theme is Community. We have chosen this theme because lack of support can cause loneliness and isolation, which in turn lowers people’s wellbeing, impacts mental health and can lead to mental illness. Social isolation is an important risk factor for both deteriorating mental health and suicide. As we emerge from the pandemic, it’s vital that the community support experienced by many people during this challenging time continues. Although restrictions have mainly been lifted, people need support now more than ever as they adjust to a new way of living. The pandemic has had a hugely detrimental effect on the nation’s mental health and sense of community. Disrupted social lives, the cancellation of large gatherings, travel restrictions and working from home have kept us in one place for long periods of time. However, one of the positives to emerge from this unparalleled situation has been the community spirit and support shown by so many to so many.”
Download loads of FREE stress reducing resources including: Videos on The Stress Management Society’s YouTube Channel, a Daily De-stressing Planner, a 7-Step Achievement Plan, a Stress Relief Colouring Book © Sam Antolik 2020, a Digital Detox checklist, and a Free Stress Guide go to www.stress.org.uk/30daychallenge
The Get Fishing campaign to get more people fishing more often is funded by the Environment Agency from fishing licence income as part of the National Angling Strategic Services contract with the Angling Trust, and Sport England.