FISHING is helping to keep Gloucester’s youngsters out of trouble.
A police project aimed at reducing anti-social behaviour by encouraging children to take up fishing has won a national award.
Angling for Youth Development, a charity whose aims include engaging young people and preserving the fishing environment, have handed an award to the Quedgeley based project.
Last year police officers worked with the community to transform the balancing pond opposite police headquarters at Waterwells from lousy lagoon to fisherman’s friend.
Volunteer coaches are now offering free lessons to youngsters to encourage them to take up the sport and divert them from activities that could cause a nuisance to others in the community.
An open day will now be held at the pond between 10am and 5pm on Sunday, April 27.
The event will also include a memorial fishing match to honour fishing coach Gill Smith, who died last year.
PC Lucy Winterburn, who came up with the idea, said: “The award is to recognise the sheer amount of hard work that people like Gill put into establishing the project.
“We’ve cleaned up the pond and cut back the undergrowth and it looks great now. We borrowed tools and pulled in favours from everyone we could. Platforms have been put in making the site suitable for schools as a resource to use for pond dipping and nature lessons.
“Fishing is a great pastime that can really engage young people and teach them a lot about things like patience and concentration. Quite often they tell me they haven’t got anything to do so in those cases we’ve encouraged them to get involved in the project and many of them have loved it.
“We want to provide young people as many positive options as possible because the benefits for the community could be huge.”
People can send an e-mail to AFYDgloucester@hotmail.co.uk to book a free coaching session during the day.
The fishing project comes as another Quedgeley based youth project, Reach Out!, enters its second year, having worked with dozens of youngsters already to get them involved in new activities.