A word from our FirstMate Co-Chairs, Justine Inns and Geoff Donley
This time of year is celebratory, and we often have a sense of relief at having reached a finish line. Roll on food, holiday, sun and family!
But for some, it can also be extremely stressful. There is a huge amount to juggle, budgets can be tight, expectations need to be met, work still needs to be done – fishing doesn’t stop, family tensions can be raised… and it can compound stress and anxiety that is already in place.
We want you to know that we understand if this is you. FirstMate supports the mental health and wellbeing of all our commercial fishers and their whānau. If you need someone to talk to that understands what you’re going through, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
For those that are working over the Christmas and holiday period to keep our BBQs filled with fresh produce from our seas, thank you.
For FirstMate, we end 2023 enormously proud of what we’ve achieved. A few highlights for us are:
We have connected with thousands of fishers and their whānau at events, on our helpline, through our media stories, with resources on our website, articles in Seafood NZ and Marine Farming Association newsletter and on Facebook and Instagram.
This newsletter reaches over 1,000 people!
We have offered support, events, help and guides to fishers in Northland, Hawkes Bay and Gisborne impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle.
We ran a low-key mental health Facebook competition and were thrilled at how many people connected with us and offered their thoughts in mental health awareness week on how they look after themselves.
We created new mental health resources, and we researched great existing resources and popped them on our website.
We promoted our fishers, and in some cases shed light on the challenges they are experiencing, through media – on TV1 News, RadioNZ, Newshub, Stuff, the Sunday Star Times, and the Herald.
We even ran a radio campaign on The Rock, featuring our very own Navigators, reaching tens of thousands of people.
An important focus has been on working with others to make sure we have the funding to continue to operate. We’re enormously grateful to all our funders for their support. Having said that, we still have more work to do in this space and as we move into 2024, our focus is very much on creating the most sustainable organisation we can, to survive and, hopefully, thrive.
2024 promises to continue to embed our services in the communities that need them most. Our Navigators are there for our fishers and their whānau, only a phone call away and able to connect fishers and whānau to a whole host of other expert services. Watch this space!
Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year, and if you’re working, keep safe and well.
From the FirstMate team, and our Co-Chairs Geoff and Justine