We’re proud to announce that the SeaFit and Smiles At Sea partnership has been shortlisted in the Third Sector Business Charity Awards 2020’s “Project of the Year” category. This prestigious charity award recognises outstanding partnerships between UK businesses and good causes.
Initiated by Smile Together in 2017, Smiles At Sea gained funding from the Seafarers Hospital Society in 2018 and was then adopted and expanded by the UK wide SeaFit Programme – a joint initiative from the Seafarers Hospital Society and the Fishermen’s Mission to deliver sustainable improvements in the health and wellbeing of fishermen and their families around the UK.
Smiles At Sea offers free dental check-ups and emergency treatment to fishing communities from a mobile dental unit located on or near harboursides in Cornwall and Devon. Finding an NHS dentist is a challenge for many, especially those in rural communities in these two counties. If you’re a fisherman and working at sea it’s even more difficult to make and keep appointments. Last year’s Smiles At Sea tour was the most successful yet – our dental teams visited nine fishing ports in three weeks and treated 173 members of the fishing community.
Joy Callender from Smile Together has led the Smiles At Sea project delivery since its inception and said: “This is such a great accolade which follows hot on the heels of us winning the national Dental Awards 2019 for ‘Best Outreach or Charity Initiative’. As a community interest company our team is passionate about reaching even further into our communities and this amazing partnership project enables us to make a difference to those who rarely get to see a dentist due to the demands of their work – in 2018 70% of those we saw hadn’t seen a dentist for at least 5 years. Last year this number reduced because the fishermen had been to see us the previous year!”
Speaking about the Business Charity Awards, SeaFit Project Delivery Manager Carol Elliott said: “We’re delighted to have been shortlisted in recognition of the invaluable support we are providing to fishermen. Sadly there won’t be an awards ceremony this year because of the Coronavirus but it doesn’t detract from the excitement for us and our partners.”
Although in the short-term Covid-19 has put a stop to upcoming SeaFit and Smile Together events, it is hoped that Smiles At Sea 2020 will be late enough in the year to go ahead – it has been provisionally planned for September when the partners are hoping to once again be able to deliver their valuable support for local fishing communities.