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  • Writer's pictureHelen Elstone

Cast A Thought and Kent Police deliver a second successful Fish FEST programme in a bid to alleviate ASB in the Shepway and Parkwood areas of Maidstone

Over the weekend of 11th and 12th May, local community group, Cast A Thought along with Kent Police, concluded the second FishFEST programme.  FishFEST (Fishing Engagement Supporting Teenagers, is an initiative aimed at supporting young people at risk of anti-social behaviour (ASB) in the Shepway and Parkwood areas of Maidstone.

The weekend’s event, following several skill-building workshop sessions, included a silvers match at Monk Lakes, introducing participants to whip fishing, and a carp match at Sams Lakes allowing them to enhance their carp fishing skills.   Prizes were awarded for the top three weights, biggest carp, biggest bag of silvers and a special award for the young person who showed the most determination and commitment to the programme.

Helen Elstone, Community Development Lead for Cast A Thought, says “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 FISH FEST 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.”

Given the success of this programme a further programme, further sessions are planned for June-July and September-October 2024.

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