Widnes residents enjoyed a day of fishing last week as part of a new project designed to reduce social isolation and get people back to nature.
Service users from charity SHAP Ltd spent the day at popular beauty spot Clincton Woods in Widnes, learning how to prepare equipment for fishing and how to catch fish, in a project jointly funded by Halton Housing Trust’s Beyond the Garden Gate programme and Partner Construction.
Richie Boswarva, SHAP Project Leader, leads the project. He said: “SHAP works to provide involvement opportunities for ‘excluded groups’ such as people with mental health issues, older people and the homeless. I thought that a fishing project would be ideal, as it helps people relax, clear their minds and forget about their problems. It also gets people outdoors to appreciate nature in a setting that helps to break down barriers and tackle stigma and discrimination.”
The £3000 donation from Halton Housing Trust’s Beyond the Garden Gate programme and Partner Construction has bought 10 sets of brand new fishing rods and equipment for SHAP, meaning that groups can enjoy regular sessions at the Clincton Wood pond throughout the year.
21-year-old Darrell O’Hare has been homeless for the past three months. Currently living at the YMCA hostel in Runcorn, he said: “I’m really enjoying myself today and it’s good to get out of the hostel. It’s quiet and relaxing here and I’ll definitely come again. I used to fish when I was a kid so it’s good to pick it up again.”
Michele Murphy runs Halton Housing Trust’s Beyond the Garden Gate project, a neighbourhood investment programme that works with Halton communities to prioritise funding for local projects.
“We didn’t hesitate to help when Richie approached us for funding, as it’s a fantastic project,” said Michele. “The reserve really is a hidden gem and it’s a fantastic resource for the local community, so hosting a fishing project was a great idea.”
Partner Construction pride themselves on building relationships with local communities. Marketing Manager James Farrell said: “Partner Construction developed the Avondale Drive scheme for Halton Housing Trust. It’s important for us that we establish partnerships with local organisations to give a little back to the locality after our construction programme has completed.
“We asked the Trust if we could support in any way and Michele suggested the fishing project. It’s fantastic to be involved and to create a sustainable community activity that everyone can enjoy.”
SHAP plan to host many more fishing days for service users at Clincton Woods, including separate half term and summer sessions for local young people. Fishing days will run in the May, June and summer school holidays for one day a week. For further information about SHAP’s fishing projects, contact Richie on 0151 257 7502 or email email@example.com.