Anglers catch the benefits of scheme

PARTICIPANTS of the annual inter-schools angling competition celebrated another successful year at Angling First in Dromore.

Run in partnership between Dromore and Rathfriland Neighbourhood Policing Team, Banbridge Police and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) and Angling First, the yearly competition offers young people the opportunity to enjoy an outdoor sport while developing beneficial relationships and interpersonal skills.

The scheme has run every Thursday night from the beginning of school holidays with participants, aged between 10-17 years old, from Dromore, Rathfriland and Banbridge. The aim of the competition is to encourage cross community engagement and provide a diversion from antisocial behaviour.

Mr Mark McGivern of Angling First, a charitable funded fishery on Lurgan Road, Dromore, provides direction, guidance and instruction for the young people and has extensive experience in working with youth groups from all over Northern Ireland.

Constable Mark McGarrity, Dromore NPT, commented, “The angling competition has been running for a number of years and simply goes from strength to strength. It is amazing to see the progress that the young people involved make during the eight week competition and also beyond that.

“A number of youths from previous years now volunteer for Mark at Angling First, both assisting at the fishery and also helping with fundraising. It is rewarding to see the young people flourish and nurture their interest in angling beyond the scheme.

“The competition is beneficial for us also. It provides us with the opportunity to engage with our young people and for them to get to know us and that we are here to help.”

Mark McGivern, Angling First, added: “Such has been the success of this project that other neighbourhood policing teams are now engaging our services from areas such as Ballymena, Newtownards, Lisburn and Belfast. It is good to see the results we have enjoyed mirrored in other towns across Northern Ireland.”

Participants from the competition will attend Banbridge Council Chamber on Monday, 3 September, to receive certificates of achievement.

Councillor John Hanna, Banbridge PCSP (Policing and Community Safety Partnership) Chair, said: “On behalf of Banbridge PCSP, I’m delighted that we were able to provide financial support to enable this summer youth diversion project to happen. It was a great success in 2011 and the PSNI Neighbourhood Officers involved last year were keen to extend this opportunity to engage with local young people from across the District and to be able to pass on some of their own skills and enthusiasm for coarse fishing.”

Councillor Hanna continued, “I’m looking forward to meeting the young people and their parents on Monday 3rd September 2012 at 5pm in the Council chamber to award them certificates to recognise their participation and achievements through attending this programme.”