Free fishing helps get Deeside youngsters hooked on sport
A fishing club which is keeping youngsters off the streets by getting them hooked on the sport has received a financial boost – thanks to cash confiscated from criminals.
Connah’s Quay and District Angling Club has introduced fishing free of charge to around 200 kids, aged from four up to 16, through its hugely successful ‘Fish Early, Fish for Life’ programme.
Thanks to a £2,500 grant from a special fund distributed by North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones, the club can purchase new fishing and safety equipment for the children, as well as using some of the funds for repair work and refurbishment of their lake at Wepre Park.
The Your Community, Your Choice initiative is also supported by the North Wales Police and Community Trust (PACT) which is celebrating its 21st anniversary this year.
The money for the awards came partly from money seized by the courts through the Proceeds of Crime Act with the rest from the Police Commissioner’s Fund.
Each of the region’s six counties have up to £2,500 apiece for two groups with £5,000 each for two organisations that operate in three or more counties.
In addition this year, thanks to additional funding from the police and crime commissioner and North Wales Police, there are two new grants of £10,000.
The larger grants are designed to fund projects addressing issues related to the emerging threat of County Lines, where young people are being coerced and threatened with violence to take part in illegal activity across the region.
Around 15,000 votes were cast in an online poll to decide which of the community schemes received support, with the cheque presentation to 19 successful applicants at North Wales Police headquarters in Colwyn Bay.
[Representatives of Connah’s Quay Angling Club receive their Your Community Your Choice award at North Wales Police Headquarters, from left, Assistant Chief Constable Sacha Hatchett, Alan White and James Davies with North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones.]
Mr Jones visited the fishing lake at Wepre Park when he was accompanied by local councillors, Ian Dunbar and Paul Shotton, during one of his regular street surgeries.
Angling Club vice chair Alan White says the grant is a big boost for the club which needs a total of £37,000 to complete the revamp of Rosie Lake.
He explained: “This money is a really big help and a good start for us. The lake, the water and the fish stock is well maintained but the infrastructure is 25 years old.
The fishing platforms are in a state of disrepair and badly need replacing. So do the pathways. The park gets thousands of visitors every year and they often walk around the lake.
We will use some of the money for kids’ equipment and safety rings. We’re also buying a second CCTV camera.”
Alan says the success of the Fish Early, Fish for Life programme, which runs during the summer holidays, has made the club keen to roll it out during other school holidays or even during term time.
And he also hopes to create a similar programme for retirees, disabled people and ex-servicemen and women to provide a place to socialise.
Alan said: “We’re getting kids off the street corner and away from annoying neighbours or from behind their computers and into a sport.
Some who would normally be destructive have got hooked on fishing. It’s very calming and great for both your physical and mental health.
There is a relaxing atmosphere and you’re surrounded by wildlife. It’s a different way of life.
Committee members and bailiffs give up their free time to run the programme. We teach them how to tie hooks and put bait on – basically all the elements of fishing.
“It’s a really good initiative. When you see the kids’ faces you can see they love it. Parents come with them too and they have fun as well.
You can see the change in people. They come back and join the junior anglers or the senior anglers because it’s a meeting place and somewhere to socialise.”
North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones, who jointly presented the awards with new Assistant Chief Constable Sacha Hatchett, said: “I am delighted that my Your Community Your Choice fund continues to support community projects across north Wales for a seventh consecutive year.
This unique fund allows our communities to decide which projects should get financial support through our on-line voting system and the response has seen more than 10,000 members of the public vote for a total of 30 projects.
These projects help to support my Police and Crime Plan whose purpose is to ensure that North Wales Police is paying specific attention to those points which have been identified as crucial by the public, me and indeed by the force itself.
“Many of you will be aware of the recent Third Sector consultation that I carried out which has resulted in an update to my priorities to include the ways in which we address emerging trends including Organised Crime and the exploitation of vulnerable people.
“As part of this I aim to ensure that a clear focus continues around county lines crimes – a particularly vicious form of criminality that exploits young vulnerable people into a life of crime which is extremely dangerous and violent and from which there is little escape.
“I am delighted to see that a number of your applications aim to address this issue and support our young people.
“Community groups are vital to the citizens of north Wales, and in helping to ensure that our communities continue to be some of the safest places to live, work and visit in the UK.”
Sacha Hatchett said: “This money includes cash from assets seized from criminals under the Proceeds of Crime Act. This is a particularly vital message as through the professionalism of North Wales Police Officers and with the support of the Courts, we are able to hit the criminals where it hurts – in their pockets.
In the seven years we have made Your Community Your Choice funding available to local community groups we have recovered over £3 million in cash and assets.
Our communities continue to play a part in this success with local intelligence information given to our officers that help us to bring these criminals to justice.
Approximately £700,000 of these recovered monies has come back to North Wales Police from the Home Office and we are able to utilise part of this to support schemes such as ‘Your Community Your Choice’.
“It sends a really positive message that money taken from the pockets of criminals is being recycled. This is turning bad money into good that’s being used for a constructive purpose.”
More details about free session over the summer holidays:
Feature Image: facebook.com/connahsquayangling
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