A project dedicated to the wellbeing of fishermen, former fishermen and their families around the north-east has been launched in a first for Scotland.
Working at sea is one of the most challenging jobs in the UK so getting fit and healthy and staying that way can be difficult.
Live Life Aberdeenshire is working in partnership with the Fishermen’s Mission and Seafarer’s Hospital Society, supported by Seafarers UK, to deliver the SeaFit Programme.
A UK-wide initiative, its aim is to deliver sustainable improvements to the mental and physical health and wellbeing of active and retired fishermen and their families.
Live Life Aberdeenshire has employed a Healthy Lifestyle Advisor to work directly with local fishing communities in the delivery of the programme.
Catriona Arthur will work with fishermen and their families in and around the harbours of Peterhead, Fraserburgh and Aberdeen, raising awareness of and providing advice and support on a variety of health and wellbeing matters to improve long term health.
Her role is to support mental and physical health improvements and to ensure there is availability for appropriate treatment, resources and help both at the harbourside and within the local community.
This includes mental wellbeing, physical activity, eating well and maintaining a healthy weight, support to stop smoking, dental health and advice about alcohol, drugs, and sexual health.
Catriona said: "The principle aim of the SeaFit Programme is to help fishermen and their families live healthier, more independent and more active lives.
“My role will involve connecting with and referring to health and wellbeing services and healthcare professionals within the local community and in time providing some of this support at harbourside.
“A key part of my role is to be available within the communities themselves, to build relationships and trust and it’s really important that anyone who feels they could benefit from this service feels able to contact me and speak to me in confidence.”
UK SeaFit Project Delivery Manager, Carol Elliott, added: “Fishing remains the UK’s most dangerous profession and life is tough for many of our fishermen at present.
“The SeaFit Programme was set up because it had been identified that fishermen find it difficult to make and keep pre-booked health appointments. They can’t plan for time off because the weather, tides and fish locations often dictate when they need to be out at sea.
“If they are not at sea, they are not earning a living. This, coupled with fishermen traditionally being expected to be strong and resilient, making them less likely to seek out medical support, means health appointments are often not made, or missed.
“We offer a range of health services, with Healthy Lifestyle Advisors situated in Cornwall, East Yorkshire, and now north-east Scotland.
“We would also normally run mobile health events, taking services to the ports and quaysides. As well as the free health checks, there are dental checks and treatment, health and wellbeing support and a network of physiotherapists all working to meet the specific needs of fishermen and their families.
“We also provide free mental health support to fishermen in Cornwall, and in Suffolk and Norfolk. It takes time to build trust, but once the fishing communities get to know the advisors many more are coming forward and talking openly about the support they’ve needed.
“One fisherman told us he wished we’d been around several years ago then perhaps two of his friends who committed suicide would still be alive today.
“Whilst we can’t run events at the moment, support is still available by phone, email or online.”
If you feel you could benefit from the SeaFit programme, you can contact Catriona Arthur by phone on 07436 020165 or email: email@example.com
Alternatively, you can find out more about what's on offer and complete an enquiry form on our website: SeaFit Programme
You can also call 07486 319621or email firstname.lastname@example.org