Moving Up Through Leisure – Positive Futures Bolton

Moving Up Through Leisure – Bolton reports on a hugely successful project to engage young people in learning through angling.

We developed our angling, day provision sessions to incorporate a recognised qualification (OCN Introduction to Angling).

During Spring of 2007 Moving Up Through Leisure was looking for day time activities that we could offer to young people who where referred through schools and who needed additional support. These activities needed to provide some sort of accreditation, to be very cheap or free as our project didn’t have any money and to have a therapeutic effect by increasing confidence and self esteem.

One of our part-time members of staff (Bridget Dawson) has been a Level Two Licensed Angling Coach for a few years and had plenty of experience teaching young people the basics of fishing. We borrowed some equipment from an angling club that Bridget had contacts with [in Salford] and dug out a couple of old rods and seat boxes that the project already had. A six week programme of taster sessions were coordinated that Bridget and Osman Hassan, one of our other key workers, were going to staff. Four young people with complex issues and who were already attending our project were chosen to attend the course. They were all experiencing problems at school and/or at home and some were on part time timetables, in trouble with the Police, truanting and obviously causing a lot of concern for their families.

Before the sessions began the young people were made aware that their attendance on the fishing project was on condition that they kept to an agreed code of conduct and that they were to try hard to improve their behavior at school. The first six weeks were successful and schools reported an improvement in the young people’s behavior, attitudes and general conduct. We made the decision to run a further six week programme with another group of four young people which was equally as successful.

During this time we did some research into recognised qualifications relating to angling and discovered the OCN accredited course – ‘Introduction to Angling’. We purchased the resource pack and decided to offer three places to the young people who had shown most interest and commitment during the two 6 week taster sessions. The OCN course was to run each Friday during the summer holidays and included both practical and theory sessions based on the environment, the water cycle, care and use of equipment, different baits and angling methods, fish handling and care. We had permission from school to carry on with the course on Thursday mornings once the young men returned to school after the summer holidays.

Dreamstore provided a small grant for the desperately needed equipment we would require for the course and to save us having to borrow all the time. The three young men had a great morning in our local tackle supply shop buying all the equipment that was needed.

We built up a really good relationship with the staff at Bradshaw Fisheries [Bolton] and were allowed to use the cafe on site as a makeshift classroom for the young men to complete the theory part of their course. All three young men enjoyed the sessions and were a pleasure to work with. We were a well organised little team, helping each other, doing our work and having a lot of fun whilst we were learning together.

They were eventually assessed on three aspects of the course, their portfolios, their practical skills and their exam marks. There were three levels the young men could have achieved, Entry Level, Level One and Level Two. At the start of the course Bridget’s aim was to get the three young men through Entry Level. Nathaniel gained a Level One, Aaron also got Level One and James got a well deserved Level Two. They were all extremely pleased and couldn’t wait to get back to tell their parents and teachers.

We had some fantastic days fishing at Bradshaw Fisheries, trying out different lakes, using different methods and baits and landing some lovely fish. All the young men really enjoyed the sessions and conducted themselves well during the time they spent with Bridget. They bonded well and it was a pleasure to work with them.

Their achievements were recognised by schools and parents and increased the young peoples confidence which led to them achieving better attendance at school, improved behavior and attainment levels.

This was a very successful programme which we intend to incorporate as a permanent provision.

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