With the school summer holidays on-going, the Fishing for Schools Kent team has been extending the benefits of fishing to adults and young people from three mental health groups.

The benefits of fishing to mind and body are well known. The most obvious boon is that common to all activities that take us out into nature – peace, quiet and tranquillity.

But the low-impact activity is also widely used as a physical rehabilitation therapy, with groups being set up across the globe to offer fishing to people with conditions as diverse as cancer, physical disabilities and war injuries. 

Australian studies have shown that soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder experienced lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol for up to three weeks after a weekend’s fishing.

It is this combination of physical and mental wellbeing through angling that is at the core of Fishing for Schools.

With this in mind it is wonderful to be able to open up the project to older people.

This summer our Kent team has been working with mental health groups from Charlton Athletic Community Trust, MCCH and the Trevor Gibbens Unit (TGU) in Maidstone.

In one project, Oxleas NHS Trust in South East London has teamed up with Charlton Athletic Community Trust to access the benefits fishing therapy could have for patients on its early intervention in psychosis programme.

They brought a large group of service users and staff out fishing with Warren White and the F4S Kent team in early August at Shorne Country Park.

Warren said: “We were expecting a group of around 12 – 15, but around 23 students plus staff came along – it just goes to show how many people are keen to have a go at fishing. The coaching was a bit different from the norm, we mixed the students – who ranged in age from their 20s to 60s – with doctors and governors so all could see how an angling session works and how it might help in a recovery programme.

“I was really surprised how keen they all were. We started by explaining the basics of fishing. There were lots of questions and answers and I could sense a real passion to learn more.

“The main topic of conversation from all the group was how excited they had been about coming and that they had always wanted to try fishing but didn’t know how to go about it.

“The students got to catch and handle many fish and we had really positive feedback. It seems getting the groups outdoors, doing something new and feeling pleased about what they are doing increases motivation and self- confidence. This must help in a recovery plan.”

A group from CACT also visited Grove Farm Fishery in August. Many thanks to Brian Bailey at Hadlow College and Thameside Works Angling & Preservation Society at Shorne for their assistance and support.