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Mental Health Awareness Week: Lives transformed with Reel Minds

There’s more to fishing than catching.

For some it has helped completely turn their life around. For others it simply gives them a reason to keep going.

Those sentiments certainly ring true for Dave Kinder, aged 67, who lives in Talbot Green, Rhondda Cynon Taf.

Dave’s life was turned upside down during the Covid-19 lockdowns, when a long period of isolation exacerbated his osteoarthritis to such an extent where he could hardly walk.

As a result, he also lost his mobile children’s fun fair business – and now requires the use of a mobility scooter.

As well as his deteriorating physical health, Dave’s mental health was also hugely impacted.

But after reading about Reel Minds CIC – a not-for-profit organisation set up with the purpose of tackling mental health and wellness through fishing – Dave hasn’t looked back.

“It’s given me a reason to keep going,” he said.

“I can’t dwell on what I’ve lost now, I’m looking forward to what I’m doing next week, the week after, next month.”

Dave is sharing his story as part of Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from 13-19 May. This year’s theme is movement.

Dave Kinder

“Even though I still enjoyed fishing, after the lockdowns I wasn’t able to get out as much on my own,” he continued.

“I wasn’t as confident as I had been before and found myself getting quite nervous and became less likely to go out as, in the back of my mind, there was always that ‘but what if this or that happens.’

“But I heard about Reel Minds and went along a couple of times to the rig tying days they had and spoke to a couple of the people there who explained what they were about.

“I’ve also got to meet like-minded people; we’ve got our own problems in different ways – with me its insecurity and nervousness – but we’ve meshed on many levels and enjoying what we like to do in a group which means we all feel more confident I think.

“It’s bringing us together and something that we all identify with. I think they do a fantastic job.”

Reel Minds CIC – a Community Interest Company – was co-founded and registered by Dave Williams and his close friend Josh Edwards.

Reel Minds is not an angling ‘club’ with ‘members’ – instead its sole focus as a charity organisation is to use sea fishing as its primary tool to bring people together and improve their mental health and wellbeing.

It is the brainchild of Williams and was an idea that came about around the time of lockdown when he saw the impact that being stuck indoors for long periods was having on people.

Once restrictions eased he also took friend Josh, who was on furlough and brand new to fishing, out to show him the basics and said it had a massively positive impact on him.

Dave Williams and Josh Edwards

The idea then started to gather real pace for Williams, as he married up his long-time passion for sea fishing with his professional background, knowledge and expertise in running a training provider company – against the backdrop of increasing widespread demand from people seeking mental health support.

He put in a bid to The National Lottery Community Fund and was awarded a £10,000 grant to help get Reel Minds up and running – in May 2022.

Based in Pontypridd, Reel Minds and their team of volunteers have worked with people across south east Wales, primarily RCT and the Vale of Glamorgan.

“It started with us taking maybe three or four people out fishing, but since we started I’d say we’ve worked with around 300 people,” said Williams.

“We’ve now got 10 volunteers while we’ve still got people who we work with now who were here on the first session two years ago.”

Reel Minds put on two fishing sessions per week, with all equipment and transport provided and, for anyone brand new to fishing, they are shown the basics of how to set up a rod and get started.

There are also the hugely popular regular Rig Making, coffee and cake sessions in Pontypridd and Barry where people can go and service their reels, fix their rods – or just have a chat – or both!

“It’s getting like-minded people together and out of the house and having people to talk to,” added Williams. “And giving them something different to focus on, going out and having a nice time.

“If we catch fish great, if not, don’t worry about it, there’s always next time.”

Reel Minds also organise local and residential weekend fishing trips and, in addition, work with schools and colleges to run fishing trip activity programmes for young people to support mental health and wellbeing.

Over the past two years, Reel Minds has also managed to secure further funding from the National Lottery, Sport Wales, as well as local authorities in RCT and the Vale of Glamorgan.

Donations received, such as old fishing equipment, and support from sponsors, allows Reel Minds to offer their activities, equipment and cover the cost of running mini-buses.

Reel Minds also works closely with mental health teams and social services, while all volunteers receive training in emergency first aid, safeguarding and mental health awareness, as well as angling coaching.

It also continues to completely transform people’s lives.

One of those people is 54-year-old Barrie Lewis, currently living in supported accommodation in Treforest after being released from prison on licence, and who has found solace and developed new friendships through fishing since engaging with Reel Minds 14 months ago.

Barrie Lewis

“It’s saved my life,” said Barrie.

“I get emotional when I speak about it. Reel Minds has been amazing, I can’t speak highly enough of it.

“I’ve been a drug addict and an alcoholic in the past and in and out of prison and I’ve always relapsed. But since I went to Reel Minds I’ve been clean.

“I’m a happy guy – and I’ve never been happy. You’ve got to be ready to change and I was ready at that time, it fell in perfect.”

Find out more about the work Reel Minds CIC do by checking them out on Facebook. You can also visit and contact them via their website.




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