The Seafit Programme launches support for Hartlepool for fishing community negatively impacted by the continuing mass death of marine life
The Seafit Programme have mobilised a focused team of health professionals at the fish quay in Hartlepool for members of the fishing community negatively impacted by the continuing mass death of marine life.
The UK fishing community has been severely impacted by the ongoing mass death of marine life in the North East and Yorkshire shores since the last quarter of 2021. This significantly increased precarity for the fishing community in the region, and poses a marked threat to their livelihoods. In response, The Seafit Programme – a joint initiative by the Fishermen’s Mission and Seafarers Hospital Society – will have a team of health professionals available at the fish quay in Hartlepool on 30 January 2023 from 09.00 – 17.00 to offer immediate wellbeing and welfare support.
SeaFit Programme Manager Carol Elliott said:“We want anyone who is worried about their finances, struggling with anxiety or stress, or worried about their health to be able to come along for a chat and access the support they need. We often hear of fishermen ‘bottling things up’ or worried about ‘being seen as weak’, but there is strength in asking for support, particularly in unforeseen circumstances like these.”
The Fishermen’s Mission, the UK’s only dedicated charity supporting fishermen and their families in the UK, noted that these circumstances are likely to exacerbate already difficult and dangerous conditions fishermen face day-to-day. Many fishermen have been forced to fish further away from their usual fishing grounds, consuming greater quantities of fuel without any guarantee of making a profitable return on this expenditure.
With fuel prices rising and the ongoing cost of living crisis, fishermen and their families are struggling with the effects upon their livelihood. Many have been forced to eat into savings, which may already be diminished as a result of the pandemic.
Additionally, the lack of clarity as to the cause of these mass marine deaths and the absence of any indication when the situation will be resolved have further contributed to uncertainty over the future of the industry in this region. Some fishermen have left the industry, and others have stayed only as they are unable to find anyone to buy their fishing vessels and equipment. The Seafit Programme and The Fishermen’s Mission have received reports that some fishermen have contemplated taking their own lives as they feel there is little other recourse.
Chief Executive of The Fishermen’s Mission Marc Evans said:“We have been monitoring this developing situation over the past year. Our staff on the ground have been there for the fishermen and their families before this particular situation, throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and again during these most troubling times. We have spoken with the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) who are also genuinely concerned about the impact this is having on those in the coastal communities. We are collectively keen to learn the causes of such a marked increase in sea-life mortality and address the current and potential future consequences this may have on the local communities. In the meantime, The Fishermen’s Mission, our colleagues at the Seafarers Hospital Society and other maritime welfare charities will do everything we can to support fishermen and their families along this coastline.”
The SeaFit Health Trainers, a team of health professionals provided by the Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust, will be on hand to provide immediate support to the fishing community in the Hartlepool region. The Fishermen’s Mission port staff will also be available to offer financial, practical and pastoral support to active and retired fishermen and their families. A specialist mental health team from Impact on Teesside will provide counselling, and advisors from the Seafarers Advice and Information Line (SAIL) will offer financial advice.
Sandra Welch, the Chief Executive of Seafarers Hospital Society said:“Our hearts go out to the fishing community who are dealing with a great deal of uncertainty at this time. We hope that fishermen in Hartlepool experiencing financial, physical and/ or emotional distress due to these circumstances are able to access the support they need through this initiative.”
For those that are unable to be there on 30 January, the Seafarers Hospital Society also offer online mental health support through an association with Togetherall (which can be accessed at https://seahospital.org.uk/help-for-you/mental-health-and-wellbeing/) as well as financial support for fishermen who are facing hardship at this time (available at https://seahospital.org.uk/help-for-you/grants-to-seafarers/).
The fishing community can also avail of the Shout text service which provides 24/7 support. If a fisherman is feeling anxious, stressed or depressed, they can text the word ‘FISH’ to 85258 for free, confidential support. After receiving four automated messages they will be connected with a trained Shout Volunteer, who will listen without judgement to whatever is troubling them.
Source: Press Release