When Sally Met Sid

Sid_When Sally Met Sid_3

Sally Taylor is the Hull Area Officer with Fishermen’s Mission in the UK who provide professional and compassionate support to fishermen and their families. Here she recounts meeting Sid (pictured), a retired fisherman in Hull – an insight into the care provided by Fishermen’s Mission.

Sally shares:
The street I am visiting is marooned. Once part of a network of busy streets leading to the docks, it now stands alone, forgotten. Narrow paths run between tiny front gardens, and I watch my feet as I pick my way through broken glass, bags of rubbish, old carpets, broken plastic toys and plastic planters, overgrown with weeds.

“No day is ever the same, you can never be prepared for what you might find. But you must always be prepared for the support that you can give.”

I arrive at Sid’s house. He has a blue front door, and his garden is tidy. I knock on the door, and Sid opens it. He is a small man in a hand-knitted jumper, and I notice that his shoes are clean and shiny. I introduce myself and he leads me into a dark hallway. There is no carpet on the floor and the interior is cold and gloomy. We go into the living room. Again, there is no carpet and very little furniture. The skirting boards have been nailed with planks. Sid tells me this is to keep out the rats. At first, I think the walls near the windows have been painted black but then I realise that this is damp. Floor-to-ceiling damp. The room is tidy and clean though, just barren and depressing.

Sid tells me he was a trawlerman fishing off the Icelandic coast. He reels off the ships the worked on and the skippers and crewmates he knew. He is proud of his fishing days and the adventures he had.

Sid has been here for 27 years. The area has deteriorated and feels isolated and forgotten.
Sid tells me that he does not see his family and that he has no friends. His voice wavers
and his eyes fill with tears. He tenses his shoulders and tightens his hands. His loneliness feels palpable. The room feels chilly and colder than ever. Sid is tired. He tells me that he has no debts, but he is not getting pension credit. He also says that he has no washing machine and washes his clothes by hand in the bath.

I reassure Sid that the Fishermen’s Mission can and will help him. We can look for more suitable accommodation where he will be comfortable and well looked after. We can buy him a new washing machine and make sure that he is getting the benefits that he is entitled to. We’ll introduce Sid to the Messdeck Memories group at Hull’s Fishing Heritage Centre where he can make new friends. We will offer him some pastoral support. I arrange to see Sid again soon and he appears a little brighter when I leave.

I am emotionally drained as I get back in my car but before I drive off there is a tap on my
window. It’s Sid, with a pack of Hobnobs. He offers me a biscuit from a shaky hand and through his tears he says, “Thank you.”

* * *

The Fishermen’s Mission is the only UK-wide charity specifically for fishermen and their families. Underpinned by Christian principles, the charity maintains a presence in fishing communities throughout the UK, providing financial, practical, welfare and pastoral support.

The Fishermen’s Mission makes a life-changing difference to the lives of active and retired fishermen throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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