Steve Hayes spends his days making people smile.
His Peninsula-based business, Able Anglers, brings together people living with a mental illness or disability for fishing sessions on land and on the water.
Steve says he launched the business about four years ago after his own struggles with depression.
“I went through it myself and the only thing that helped me was sitting by the waiter and fishing,” he says.
Steve reasoned that if fishing could have such a profound impact on his mental health, perhaps it could help others too, and the idea for Able Anglers was born.
“Generally the fishing community is a good community and when we’re fishing from jetties other people get chatting with us – it’s great for everyone.
“It’s amazing – at the end of every day you know what they have accomplished within themselves.
“The big thing is social isolation, there is still a lot of stigma, but our people know everybody is different and we all have our own problems.
“For them it’s just a bunch of mates fishing and that’s what it’s all about.”
With the motto `Reel opportunities for real people’, Steve and his team adapt their approach to each client, with some starting with solo sessions before joining a larger group.
“We don’t focus on the disability, it’s about the social side, they make really good friendships.”
Steve says he and his team draw immense satisfaction from the accomplishments of their fishers.
“We had one guy the other day with ADHD and his mum couldn’t believe he’d been completely absorbed by fishing for three hours.
“And we had another client with spina bifida and she really wanted to go jet skiing, so we organised that and now she goes every Monday.”
Steve says the National Disability Insurance Scheme has opened up opportunities for people to explore more activities with support workers.
“It’s good now with the NDIS – people are looking outside the box. Seeing people get out and about and doing their thing is inspiring.”
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