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Get Fishing News

Cast A Thought and Kent Police incorporate Get Fishing Awards at FishFEST anti-social behaviour initiative

Local community group, Cast A Thought and Kent Police ran their second FishFEST programme to reduce anti-social behaviour in Maidstone – further angling sessions are planned for June to July and September to October 2024

FishFEST stands for Fishing Engagement Supporting Teenagers and incorporates skill-building workshop sessions, a fishing match, whip fishing sessions for young participants and a carp match to build existing carp fishing skills. Prizes are awarded for the top weights, biggest carp, biggest catch of silverfish as well as a special award for the young person who showed the most determination and commitment to the programme. FishFEST has proved so successful in improving behaviour in the community that it’s all set to expand to three six week sessions in 2024 and 2025 that will provide an extra 60 youth work hours each year.

Cast A Thought first partnered with Kent Police and Kent Youth Service in September 2023 to run angling activities for young people at risk of anti-social behaviour because they were taking part in unauthorised fishing. The fishing sessions are led by Angling Trust qualified coaches and volunteers using the Angling Trust Get Fishing Award framework.

Get Fishing Award sessions encourage skills-development and a measured progression into angling participation via the Bronze, Silver and Gold Award levels. These stages help take newcomers on the first steps of their angling journey – from the unforgettable excitement of catching their first fish, right through to becoming a more experienced angler who can set up tackle, safely return their own fish and have the correct Environment Agency fishing licence.

The FishFEST project joins up Kent Police and Kent Youth Service Qualified Youth Workers with Angling Trust qualified coaches and volunteers, and also meets the NHS’s five steps to wellbeing initiative. The sessions help build positive relationships between particiants and the Police, angling coaches and youth workers in a managed angling environment. Young anglers taking part in FishFEST develop positive life-skills such as teamwork, performance, coping, discipline and citizenship – all of which help increase resilience, confidence, self- esteem and a reduction in anti-social behaviour.

Helen Elstone, Community Development Lead for Cast A Thought said:

“We are pleased to be part of this initiative which offers young people the opportunity to learn not just in terms of fishing, but also vital skills in communication, problem solving and decision making. The progress of the group over the programme has led to positive relationships with Kent Police and trusted adults. It was great to see, not only the young people teaching the police officers how to fish, giving them a better understanding of anglers they encounter in their work, but also collaborating through peer education. Each young person was gifted a fishing whip, equipping them to continue developing their fishing skills and engage in positive activities.”

PCSO Kirsty Greaves added:

“Working with young people and teaching them fishing, while reducing ASB in local areas and helping improve lives is immensely rewarding. It is fantastic to see partners working collaboratively to make the FishFEST project a success. It was good to welcome officers from Folkestone and Hertfordshire at the event to see how the programme runs. I am very much looking forward to seeing this project evolve and are looking expand this initiative county-wide and potentially nationally. We wish to extend our thanks to Golding Homes, Angling Direct, Safer Kent and KCC Cllr Lottie Parfitt-Reid and for their financial support, and to Infozone Youth Centre, Maidstone for hosting the workshop sessions and providing transportation.”

Alice Ditcher, Golding Homes Community and Customer Engagement Advisor said:

“We’re very proud to be partners of FishFEST for a second year running. At Golding, we’re committed to making improvements within our neighbourhoods and providing community initiatives and activities to help prevent ASB issues. FishFEST really does give young people the opportunity to learn new skills as well as giving them the confidence to continue fishing in a controlled and legal way.”

Gavin Cooper, manager of Angling Direct’s Sittingbourne store, explained why Angling Direct are proud to sponsor the event:

“The purpose of Angling Direct is to “Getting Everyone Fishing!” As a fishing retailer we wish to inspire everyone to get outdoors and enjoy an exceptional fishing experience. The Fish FEST programme gives us the opportunity to connect with the local community and to give something back. , whether this is in terms of our expertise or the prizes we donate. We have seen how the programme can benefit all that are involved, and look forward to developing our partnership with Kent Police and Cast A Thought further.”

The pilot programme received the Kent Police Strategic Prevention Command’s Problem Solving award in February 2024 and PCSO Kirsty Greaves was awarded with PCSO of the Year in May 2024.

About Get Fishing

Get Fishing is the Angling Trust‘s campaign to grow participation in angling and get more people fishing more often. Annually, the Get Fishing campaign introduces over 30,000 people to angling at hundreds of fun, safe and friendly events 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. Children under 13 do not need a fishing licence, and fishing licences for children aged between 13 and 16 are free but you still need to register and receive a licence before you start fishing. You can get a fishing licence for the full year, for 8 days (ideal for holidays!) or just a day’s fishing.

The Angling Trust’s ‘Get Fishing’ campaign is proudly supported by
Shakespeare, Exclusive Tackle Partner and Angling Direct, Exclusive Retail Partner
as we all work towards getting more people fishing, more often.

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