Posted: 02.10.21 at 07:52 by Derek Davis
Fishermen at Felixstowe Ferry have spoken of their gratitude after vital mobile medical facilities were taken direct to them.
Dental charity Dentaid, the NHS and Suffolk county council health services were on hand as part of a Seafit initiative organised by the Fishermen's Mission at the Felixstowe Ferry boatyard yesterday (Friday, October 1) and will be there again today.
James Hunt, who has been in the fishing industry for 14 years after first getting involved when aged 16, told Nub News how important the multi-agency initiative was to everyone in the hamlet.
"Fishermen are a tough breed and can't always get checked out so and we don't always look after ourselves as much as we should do," said James, who owns the fisheries hut at the ferry.
"It is great to know there are people out there that want to help us and offer support and advice, especially during these rocky and uncertain rimes.
"This has come at a time when people really appreciate help an awful lot."
While the 30-year-old does have a dentist, he knows many do not with one fisherman never having had any treatment in 22 years.
James said: "I see a dentist when I can but It is great to be able to have these checks
"We have probably all been guilty at some time of not going to the dentist, so it is good to be able to pull so many people together at one time."
The pandemic compounded problems fishermen face in accessing basic medical services all year round and the consensus at Felixstowe Ferry was to have the event on a regular basic.
"It was incredibly difficult not just the healthcare but many problem," said James
"So this has given us encouragement and something to look forward to."
With a dozen fishermen working from the small quay, the industry providing fish to shops and restaurants in the Felixstowe area and beyond,
James added: "It is a small but active industry, so it would be great to help keep it alive and we want people to stay as fit a possible to be able that keep that going as long as possible.
"We would love to see this become a regular thing."
Volunteer dentists and dental nurses manned the unit, with one London dentist paying his own way to stay overnight and give his services for free.
Sue Smith, development manager for Dentaid, was delighted with the turnout and reaction from the fishermen.
"It has gone really well and we are so pleased fro many fishermen an their families have turned out to see us, so we can help them with any dental problem they may have," said Sue
"They have been really appreciative what we do. Many them have lost their dentist for one reason or another, usually because they have missed an appointment and then been taken off the books
"They ave not been able to sign with anyone else, because there is no one available in the area.
"So they really appreciate us coming along today and for the Fishermens Mission and Seafit for organising all of this."
After seeing the need and the reaction, Sue wants to bring Dentad back to Felixstowe Ferry, but admits financing it is an issue.
She said: "We would love for it to be regular thing but there is not the finding there is definitely a need, for example one gentleman had not seen a dentist in 22 years, so we know there is need. and we would love to come here more but we need the funding."
The two day event was put together by Seafit, working in conjunction with the Fishermen's Mission based in
Senior superintendent Tim Jenkins, missionary officer for East Anglia secured funding from the Suffolk Engagement Communities forum at the height of the pandemic, when existing issues were exacerbated.
Tim said: "The idea is to take services to the fisherman on the quayside where they are.
"Fishing is still the most dangerous industry people can work in through peacetime. There are also the unsociable hours, so getting appointments for dentists and vaccines is quite difficult."
Tim liaised with the fishermen to put the event on, and a couple of factors fell their way on Friday at the start of the two day event.
He said: "The Felixstowe Ferry guys helped us to be able to set up here, not just for the fishermen of Felixstowe but also those in the wider area.
"It has been a good turn out and it helped that they organised their AGM today,, it has also been too windy and horrible for them to go out fishing so a good day to be here.
"The reaction has been brilliant they have been thrilled for us to be here. The Fishermen's Mission has built up a good rapport over the years and they know we are here for them at all times."
Although aimed primarily at fishermen and their families, everyone is invited to attend the event today between 10am - 4pm, which includes a vaccination centre, liver checks, covid testing and Dentaid dental services - all for free and an appointment is not necessary, although you may have to be patient at busier times.