As a journalist Lindsay Mackie says she has “…a sort of optimistic sense that change can happen, that we are one community with shared values, one of which is openness and a sense that all our citizens’ stories matter” Lindsay, our new patron tells us why she has chosen to support The Archway Foundation, a charity that supports people experiencing loneliness in Oxfordshire.
“I began life at a journalist in Scotland. While I was at Edinburgh University I wrote for the student paper and then worked for The Scotsman and BBC Scotland- while I was still a student! Those were the days….I got rather a poor degree, not surprisingly, but I was launched as a journalist, the career I have loved ever since.
I had always wanted to work for The Guardian and after training stints on a Scottish magazine and then the Daily Express, I was lucky enough to get a temporary job as holiday cover on the paper, and then got taken on permanent staff. Newspapers were important then, the only way really to get truthful news (some of them!) both nationally and locally.
I went onto become a film critic for The Glasgow Herald, the most wonderful job too- watching six movies a week for free and then writing about them with as many jokes as possible. But by then I had married Alan, also a Guardian journalist, and we quickly had our first child and I went freelance to fit in with the baby.
In the years since I have used some of the techniques of journalism- curiosity, speed and a sort of optimistic sense that change can happen, that we are one community with shared values, one of which is openness and a sense that all our citizens‘stories matter– to work in different fields. So I organised the set up of a couple of small charities – [including] the Sheila McKechnie Campaign Awards, and the Diana Award for Young People, which brought me in touch with both the most marvellous, righteous campaigners, and wonderful young people.
Now that I’m in Oxford I suppose I wanted to interact with the city in the ways I’ve always done wherever I’ve lived- which is to act as a journalist. What’s going on here? Is there something I’m needed for? Also, where’s the fun and the people who are delightful to meet?
A friend told me about Archway and one of the reasons it appealed to me is the short distance between the idea behind the organisation and the practical ways in which it carries out that idea. (You have no idea how many charities fall into the trap of believing a committee is proof positive that they are doing real work with real people).
Also, there is such a good atmosphere of good cheer, and fun, at Archway events. People so want to come together but increasingly, the community, ways in which people meet are being hacked down. Even local shops, where chatting is sometimes as vital as buying something, are teetering on a dreadful abyss. So Archway provides a solid structure round which to build social interaction- which is a pompous way of saying that it gives people the chance to meet and befriend each other.
Getting involved in Archway gives a direct involvement in other people’s daily lives- which, with the journalist’s hat on, is always fascinating! But its good for us all to build empathy and curiosity (of the kind sort, not the tabloid version). And this directness is a gift, rarer by the day in our society. Also Archway allows everyone to discover the talents and gifts they have in themselves.
If people are lonely then their mental health is under siege. My daughter Bella Mackie has just had a book published about how she helped manage her anxiety through running. Jog On is a terrific read (proud mother alert!) and one of the points she makes is that there are always things we can do to help ourselves, not as substitutes for medical help or therapy, but as accompanying actions. Through her eyes, I can see how pervasive and often unrecognised, anxiety and depression are in our society. And also how the ways of helping are really in our own hands and are often simple and successful. Meeting each other, sharing food, listening to music, having a laugh, helping someone else, listening …these are all good, wholesome , traditional ways of keeping communities positive. And Archway recognises that – which is why I’m delighted to be a patron.”
If you would like to support the work that the Archway Foundation does tackling loneliness in the community it’s easy to:
Donate as little as £5.00