Anglers are hoping to hook young people in East Durham on a new hobby with the launch of a £30,000 project to cut youth crime.
National charity Get Hooked on Fishing (GHOF)has joined forces with District of Easington Council to set up the scheme, which will see youngsters from across the area enrolling on a programme of fishing-based activities.
Funded by the Environment Agency, the initiative aims to steer young people away from crime and introduce them to a positive activity they can share with friends and family and help them to develop their personal and social skills.
Darren McGlen, GHOF Project Manager, said: “GHOF uses angling to create alternative activities for young people, particularly those at risk due to crime, drugs, educational exclusion, poor health and other forms of social exclusion.
“Our aim is to raise awareness among young people that there are viable alternatives to crime and anti-social behaviour, while also promoting conservation and environmental issues.
“We work alongside the school curriculum to assist in educational development but also try to promote angling as a sport and encourage long-term participation.”
Young participants will take part in 12 initial sessions, which will include sea angling at Blackhall and Seaham and a visit to the charity’s fishing lake in Bishop Auckland.
As well as learning the technical skills, it is hoped that the youngsters will also gain extra confidence and develop their personal and social skills.
They will also be able to sign up to a peer mentoring scheme and eventually work towards NVQ, Open College Network, ASDAN and other qualifications.
Although the scheme will be aimed at young people to begin with organisers hope to develop further activities for families and are currently looking for further funding to secure the future of the scheme.
The project is being backed by the council’s Pride in Easington team, District of Easington Youth Forum, Groundwork East Durham, Positive Futures and the council’s Coast and Countryside Rangers.
Coun George Patterson, Chairman of the Pride in Easington steering group, said: “This is an excellent opportunity to engage young people in an activity that can benefit them in so many ways.
“And as well as gaining new skills and experiences, those who take part will also have the chance to make the most of our district’s stunning coastline.”