Fishing is widely considered as one of the most dangerous professions in the UK, meaning that caring for the welfare of those who go out to sea is vital for the industry. The Fishmongers’ Company has a long-running relationship with the Fishermen’s Mission, who for almost 140 years have provided practical and pastoral support for active and retired fishermen.
As part of the Fish & Fisheries grants programme, the Company’s Fisheries Charitable Trust has provided financial support for the Fishermen’s Mission Welfare Outreach Programme which takes a holistic approach tackling issues around social exclusion, access to financial support and primary healthcare as well as emergency support following on-board accidents and incidents at sea.
As well as providing emotional support the UK wide programme has facilitated 611 emergency grants from various organistations in the last year, helping fishermen cope with financial crises which could result in homelessness or County Court Judgements.
One such example is Pete, who lives near Mudeford Quay in Dorset. Pete fishes for lobster, crabs, cuttlefish and bass and has been a RNLI volunteer for nearly 30 years. Last year, an accident at sea left Pete with a serious head injury and over £30,000 worth of damage to his boat, outstripping its insurance value. With Pete unable to work and trying to cope with the psychological trauma of the accident, the family were soon struggling to pay for food, utilities and rent. As the fear of homelessness grew, the mental health of Pete and his wife began to suffer.
On learning of Pete’s accident, Nick, Fishermen’s Mission Superintendent for the South Coast Outreach Programme, offered his support. Within days Nick had facilitated a grant to cover the family’s rent arrears and provided supermarket food vouchers whilst offering emotional and pastoral support. This support has helped Pete get back to work and selling his catch whilst being able to enjoy time with his family.
The Mission have also implemented a crisis intervention and personalized practical help project, signposting fishermen towards specialist agencies tackling a variety of welfare issues including debt, alcohol, benefits/employment issues as well as mental health, bereavement and family difficulties. In doing so the Mission have prevented countless crisis situations from occurring, as at-risk fishermen benefit from improved mental health, life management and financial independence.
The Fishermen’s Mission also provide warm and safe welfare centres for UK and foreign fishermen working off the UK’s coastline promoting cohesive communities in our coastal towns, improving communications and inter-personal skills, encouraging friendships and making people more willing to alert staff of issues facing the community.
A prosperous and sustainable fishing industry is dependent on the health and welfare of its fishermen. The Fishmongers’ Company is proud to support the Fishermen’s Mission in caring for the UK’s fleet.