June 4, 2021 5.30 pm This story is over 13 months old

Bearded Fishermen charity tackle mental health across Lincolnshire

The charity is looking for more volunteers

Each month in 2021, The Lincolnite and publishers Stonebow Media offer our support to a local charity, with free advertising and promotion across our website and social media channels, to help them raise funds and awareness.

During the pandemic lockdown countywide charities have suffered with fewer donations and not being able to host valuable events that help them raise more money throughout the year.

This month is the turn of mental health charity Bearded Fishermen, which covers the whole of Greater Lincolnshire, as well as South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw.

Rick Roberts and Mick Leyland met through their love of fishing around 15 years ago. After losing a friend from the fishing community, who took his own life in October 2019, they wanted to do something to tackle the problem of mental health and suicide in the county.

The charity costs around £2,000 a month to run, which is mainly raised through public donations and the owners’ own pockets. Although the charity has grown in terms of volunteer numbers and services, fundraising has been hit hard in the coronavirus pandemic – you can make a donation here.

You can also donate to the charity over the phone or through PayPal, or by choosing Bearded Fishermen when using Smile Amazon.

Bearded Fishermen provides mental health and suicide prevention support.

Bearded Fishermen started as an online support page and then a Tuesday night group in 2019, before the team of volunteers started going out and doing more to help people stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown.

In March 2020, Bearded Fishermen became a registered charity and by June last year it opened its first office in Gainsborough, with another opening later next door.

The charity has now grown to having 42 volunteers, a 14-line call centre that runs 24/7 in Gainsborough, a nightwatch project in certain hotspots where people want to end their lives such as in Lincoln parks and at the Humber Bridge.

Volunteers included counsellors and police officers, and as the charity continues to grow it is appealing for more volunteers – see more information about the charity here.

The vans used by mental health charity Bearded Fishermen

The charity has a wellbeing hub at Humber Bridge Country Park.

The demand at the call centre has increase with 387 calls in November last year to 455 the following month, from as far as Cyprus, and the number continues to rise due to the impact of lockdown and also restrictions easing.

The call centre can be reached by calling 0300 365 0019 or support can be accessed via email at [email protected] or on the charity’s Facebook page.

Depending on the nature of the call, it will stay with the initial volunteer, but there is also a traffic light system so they can be referred to more experienced callers where required. If it is more serious or a crisis situation, the charity has a response team, who are all FREC3 trained (Level 3 of First Response Emergency Care).

Common calls and messages the charity receives range from old people ringing up for a chat to high end cases of people wanting to take their own life.

Bearded Fishermen also now has a hub at the Humber Bridge with teams out every night between 7pm and 10pm, Monday to Saturday. It also has referral systems to send to NHS crisis teams, as well as working with agencies including relating to alcohol and drug abuse, and the Peter Hodgkinson Centre in Lincoln.

The charity’s NightWatch project goes out at night checking all the known suicide hotspots in the county to prevent suicide attempts.

Beerheadz in Lincoln will be used to host support meetings and coffee days on Mondays in the near future, while the charity also has its own online radio station broadcasting 24/7 every day. There will be new shows hosted by teens and children launching ready for the summer holidays.

Rick told The Lincolnite: “Both myself and Mick have been through mental health, we both have life experience and been through suicide attempts. Mick helped to save me, as well as the YMCA in Lincoln who gave me somewhere to live when I didn’t have anywhere to go seven years ago.

“At the time I didn’t want to be around and I didn’t think I had anything to show for my life, but the YMCA got counselling for me and Mick helped to support me.

“The work we do is very important as things are escalating with mental health in the country and many can’t handle the demand so we help with that.

“Our work is very rewarding. We are like a big family. We all support each other as well and any new volunteers soon become part of our family team.”

Regarding the Nightwatch teams, Nightwatch Manager Peter Troop said: “We are there to help at a time when it is needed.”