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SeaFit joins forces with local NHS to launch dedicated health trainer service for East Yorkshire Coast fishermen and their families

25th October 2018

SeaFit joins forces with local NHS to launch dedicated health trainer service for East Yorkshire Coast fishermen and their families Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust, together with maritime charities the Seafarers Hospital Society and the Fishermen’s Mission are launching a dedicated health trainer service that aims to improve the health and quality of life of fishermen in Holderness, on the East Coast of Yorkshire.

The new service, developed as part of the SeaFit Programme with initial funding from Seafarers UK, aims to work with fishermen to improve their overall health and wellbeing and connect them with local health and wellbeing services.

Following a two-year pilot, part-funded by the Seafarers Hospital Society, the outreach programme is now set to be rolled out full-time to the Holderness fishing community, including those directly at sea and their families. Commenting on the launch, Peter Coulson, Secretary of the Seafarers Hospital Society said: “We welcome the opportunity to be working with Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and Humber NHS Teaching Foundation to deliver this exciting project and build on the lessons learnt from our previous pilot. The pilot, undertaken in 2011 in Bridlington, Hornsea and Withersnea, was very successful in reaching fishermen and engaging with them about their health. The key was going to them.”

Explaining the thinking behind the initiative, he said: “Fishing remains one of the most dangerous occupations in the world and yet there are no occupational health services for fishermen. It’s tough physical work and the risks are high. What’s more, the hours are long and access to standard NHS services is limited. So we need to find new and innovative ways of enabling our fishermen to get fit and healthy and stay fit and healthy, and it needs to be sustainable. We hope that by equipping fishermen and their families with the skills and knowledge they need to take charge of their own health and wellbeing we will see long-term improvements in the health of the fishing community.”

Key to delivering the new service are local partners the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Living Seas Programme and Humber NHS Teaching Foundation Trust. Rob Stoneman Chief Executive of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust said, “We are delighted to be able to launch such a unique project, working alongside experts in the health field. Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Living Seas programme is working towards achieving a healthy, productive local marine environment, supported by a healthy thriving fishery and fishing community. Behind that vision are people: those who work on the sea and appreciate it for what it has to offer in terms of marine wildlife and how it supports their daily lives. By working closely with these communities we aim to make health a priority, both for our marine wildlife and those using the sea.”

Michele Moran, Chief Executive of Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust, and key partner in the project, said: “We are really excited for our health trainers to take this project to the next level having completed such a successful pilot. The team learnt a lot about what areas of health improvement are most important to fishermen and with this information, we hope to deliver an innovative service to this industry which will make such a huge difference to them and their families.”

With their expert knowledge of the challenges facing fishermen, the Fishermen’s Mission will also play an important part in the Holderness initiative. Welcoming the new service, David Dickens, Chief Executive of the Fishermen’s Mission, said: “The Fishermen’s Mission is thrilled that as part of the SeaFit programme with Seafarers Hospital Society and other partners, the Healthtrainer pilot project in Bridlington is now being established as a full-time service. We believe that the wellbeing of our fishermen and their families plays a significant role in many aspects from safety at sea to improved health outcomes over the long-term.”

Funding for the Holderness Health trainer initiative has been provided by Holderness FLAG, European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and the SeaFit Programme. SeaFit is a joint initiative from the Seafarers Hospital Society and the Fishermen’s Mission, working in partnership with local providers to deliver sustainable improvements to the health and wellbeing of fishermen and their families around the UK. This is one of three pilots providing health trainers to fishing communities around the UK.