Archway has been supporting people throughout the pandemic.
We wanted to hear from people what difference that support has made in their lives and to learn about what being involved with Archway has meant to people.
In order to do this, we set up a storytelling project and listened to the voices of Archway Friends by collecting their stories of this time. The report of what we heard and found is here for you to read.
We’re very pleased to announce a forthcoming fundraiser for Archway for Spring/Summer 2021 by former Monday Volunteer Raj Patel who is going to extraordinary length to raise funds for our work in helping people suffering from loneliness:
‘My name is Raj, I am training to become a GP in Oxford, and doing my first ultramarathon on behalf of The Archway Foundation. It is a 50km(!) run along the Exe Estuary in Devon, on the 10th of July 2021.
Of the many terrible consequences of the pandemic, this last year has emphasised the importance of providing support to individuals suffering from loneliness and social isolation.’
Come down to your local park to spot bright, handmade decorations weaving throughout the trees and perched along benches. This surprise decoration-fest is a craft bomb to help combat loneliness. Loneliness has been rife throughout the pandemic, and here at the Archway Foundation we truly believe even one lonely person is one too many. We have been featured by a local crafting group to help spread our charity’s ethos, and we’re here to tell you all about it.
So, what is a craft bomb?
A craft bomb entails random, unannounced decorating of public spaces, usually for a cause. The Oxford craft bomb initiative has come about in order to share local charity information across Oxford; all in the name of one thing. To help combat loneliness across Oxford.
Up until the 12th of April three Oxford locations have been decorated with knitted animals and bunting, with attached tags featuring the Archway Foundation. The three parks are University Park, Abbey Meadows (Abingdon,) and Florence Park. The handmade features perch along the park to catch eyes of passers-by, spread some smiles, and allow people to check out the tags with loneliness resource information.
Loneliness in our current times:
5% of people in Great Britain (2.6 million adults) reported feeling lonely “often” or “always” in Spring 2020. Loneliness continues to soar to alarming heights throughout stay-at-home orders – as an increasingly prominent issue, we have endeavoured to be part of the movement to combat this. We’re supporting this craft bomb in order to shed some immediate happiness, and to let even more people know that we are here for them. Our charity is available for Oxford locals suffering with loneliness, needing someone to talk to, or needing friend. We strive to make sure nobody struggles alone.
Drop by and help share the love
The craft bomb has been set up by a local https://www.drunkenknitwits.com Oxford knitting group and sponsored by a https://designbundles.net/ You can come on down to one of your local parks and spot the decorations up until the 12th of April. You can also share your discoveries via the hashtag #dbsharethelove
Archway has been running a storytelling project to collect stories from people who have been supported by us during the pandemic.
We wanted to hear from people, in their own words, what the experience of Archway has been like during this difficult time.
We gathered stories that, anonymised and with people’s consent, we can now share and use to support funding applications, Volunteer recruitment, training and the general promotion of Archway’s work.
Here are a few extracts from the stories….
‘It Has Been A Lifeline’ – An Archway Story
‘I’ve been going to Archway fourteen years, a long time. Now they phone once a fortnight or once a week to see if everything’s all right. Judith used to phone and now Barbara phones. Brenda (senior staff member) phoned the other week because they couldn’t get hold of me and they thought there might be something wrong. She said ‘they have been trying to contact you and they haven’t had no response so they passed it back over to me to see if you are all right.’ I said, ‘I’m fine.’ She said, ‘as long as you are all right they don’t mind but they were getting quite worried’ she said, which is fair enough, and then I said to her, ‘we got an uncle that’s in the Churchill with cancer, that’s what the problem is.’ She said, ‘I’m ever so sorry, as long as you and your brother are all right.’ ‘He’s fine’, I said ‘and I’m fine’ and I said ‘thank you for phoning’. She said, ‘no, that’s our job to phone you.’
It’s like in May, I lost my mum in May. I got in touch with Archway because I went a bit funny about it and said, ‘how am I going to manage now without my mum and dad?’ and they said, ‘You will still manage with your brother who’s there with you’ and I said, ‘yes.’ She said, ‘if you’ve got any difficulties or anything get in touch with Archway and they’ll contact you’ and Judith phoned the next day. They’ve been really good Archway, they phone and see if I’m all right and have I got enough food and things.
It’s been a long time this (lockdown), I haven’t been out for a long time. I’m getting really fed up with it now. I’m used to going out, that’s what the problem is. I just can’t go out cos I’m vulnerable at the moment the doctor said, in case I have a fall or anything. I’ve already had a fall about a month ago in here so I’ve got to be really careful but I just told Brenda, it will be nice when I can go back to Archway (social group) and see all my friends. She said, ‘we understand and we’d love to see you when you can come back, but I can understand what you mean, it is a long time.’
The calls have been reassuring. They’ve been really nice, they’ve rung each week and they’ve really talked to me. It’s like Barbara rung last week and she was on the phone for about forty minutes I should think, or even longer than that. She said, ‘I don’t mind spending the time speaking to you.’ I said, ‘they’ve all been nice at Archway’ and she said, ‘You’re a nice person at the end of the day.’
They send all leaflets through once a month about whatever they’re doing, and if it’s anybody’s birthday they wish them ‘Happy Birthday.’ And then they rung me in September and wishes me a happy birthday. But it’s not the same as really meeting the friends like at Archway. I used to go to Archway each week on a Monday. They used to pick me up in the car and take me there and bring me back and I used to think it was ever so nice. It’s all stopped at the moment because of the virus. I used to be able to go and visit my friends but now I can’t so it’s all come hard really.
I only see my brother at the moment cos he lives with me cos he’s my carer. Archway calls have made a lot of difference because you just can’t go out and mix with people. You can’t go to the shops and have a cup of tea, can you, or a piece of cake or a biscuit or sandwiches or can’t go to town, can you, or Cowley centre or Headington.’
‘I used to love going out. The first time you thought it wouldn’t go on so long (lockdown), now they’ve sent a second lot so it’s come harder now because you can’t go anywhere. If Archway hadn’t been in touch, it wouldn’t have been very good at all cos I wouldn’t have been in touch with nobody. You’ve got nobody else. My family has been in touch and asked me if I’m all right and things but it’s not the same as speaking to my friends.
I made a nice friend at Archway. He lives completely on his own. He rings me a couple of times a day because he lives on his own. I used to go to his flat and have a cup of tea with him. Now, I can’t go to his flat.
I’ve enjoyed people phoning from Archway. I’ve enjoyed it each week. It’s helped me with the rest of the week cos it’s somebody different to talk to. Not being funny towards my brother but you don’t know what to keep saying to him do you? If it’s somebody different, you know what to say to them. It has been a lifeline. It’s made a lot of difference really because I don’t have nobody else to talk to only my ordinary friends. I don’t really know anybody else, only the people really from Archway.
If you can’t get out it’s more hard. I tell people I’m in prison. Well, it’s not like prison really, it’s just a house. It’s just not mixing. It’s just mixing with people like people from Archway and going out really that I miss.’
‘Something To Look Forward To’ – An Archway Story
‘During the Covid-19 pandemic, Archway has been very supporting to me by a weekly phone call from one of their many volunteers, ensuring that I stay well. The weekly conversations generally last up to three-quarters of an hour and I always look forward to these calls. I also receive The Bright Side newssheet, which keeps me in touch with the folk at Archway. The newssheet arrives by post once a fortnight with a word search, quizzes etc. to pass the time and always has useful phone numbers in case I need help. Until present I have not needed to use the numbers but it’s nice to know that there is help out there for me. I often think of the many folk I have met at the weekly social evenings before Covid-19 and hope to meet with everyone in the near future. The support which Archway provides is second to none. There’s always a welcome at Archway.
I’ve also wrote the odd poem and they published it in The Bright Side for the rest of the lonely people to read and I quite appreciate that. I’ve become a poet thanks to the Co-ordinator at Abingdon. It was her that got me to write my first poem. I’ve carried on writing a few poems but I’m mainly a storyteller.
I write short stories a lot. When I go back to Archway, to meet people again, they shall be entertained by some of my short stories. They are stories that start off and get people interested, but I always end up where it makes people laugh.
Keeping in touch keeps me up to date. I’m up to date with what’s going on. It’s nice that Archway can take the trouble to contact all of their members. If there wasn’t Archway I’d probably be making more visits to see me doctor, because of the loneliness. I mean I can always pick up one of their quizzes or the word search and pass the time on one of those, cos I don’t always do them you see because I tend to watch a lot of television lately.
I think they’ve done enormous, they’ve been enormous for help. They give help to other members, lonely people, they give help to those as well. It’s not just me. And it’s the way they do it. It’s a nice approach, it’s a very good approach.
Also, Sally rings me up once a week on a Wednesday. We have very interesting conversations, talking about things in general and that.
It’s nice that they can spare the time to phone me. I mean because the person who speaks to me, she does work, she does go out to work… and it’s nice, you know, that she can find the time to speak to me over the phone cos it generally lasts three-quarters of an hour. It’s the conversation with people that makes the difference. I’m one of those that likes to meet people to have a chat with. I mean when I go into town for shopping or for a walk out, I generally see people and have a chat with them, but with the lockdown, whenever I go into town there’s not many people about and I am one that likes company.
Phone calls and The Bright Side are something to look forward to and looking forward to things, it’s like when I’ve booked a holiday. The best part of the holiday is the build up to looking forward to a good holiday.’
‘We Have Not Been Neglected At All’ – An Archway Story
‘I was thinking back and I think I’ve been going to Wednesday Welcome (Archway social group) sometime 2017, perhaps earlier. It’s such a caring and supportive place to go, that’s why it’s so wonderful to go there and be part of the group. Obviously, with the Covid, sadly the group was unable to continue. I am so much missing it as I live on my own. I feel loneliness all the time and I’m sure I’m not alone with other Archway members experiencing the same. Because it was really the only thing I had in my life, which might sound a bit…. Well I have a very close friend but she suffers with bipolar so she’s never very well normally and of course we can’t meet anyway. And family wise, I just have a twin sister really who’s very… she can be caring but sometimes she can’t. She can be very, er, bossy (laughs).
In the now, I have been very suicidal and I have to rely on the Samaritans to keep me alive basically. And so it’s been awful actually. I’m waiting for a hip replacement and I have degenerative sclerosis of the spine which means having an operation and as they can’t guarantee any success rate I won’t have it done. I don’t want to risk being in a wheelchair sooner than I have to be and I did have some good news because there is another operation I’m waiting for and I just had a phone call from the JR (hospital) to say they have a cancellation and they have an appointment for me.
My hip means that I’ve constantly got pain. I struggle doing things around the flat. I’ve always kept the flat nice and clean and tidy but it’s a tip and I find that hard to cope with, but no, it’s quite restrictive it really is and I can get quite upset about it when I see people just walking or running or just doing things that I was always able to do. No more running for a bus, not unless I put my stick out and try and wave it down.
The house I live in is divided into two flats and a young family lives above me. It’s constant noise until they go to bed at night and I find that very stressful. I don’t find there is any peace, I don’t have any peace.
Archway is such a wonderful place, it really is and I think me being in the situation I’m in at the moment physically and mentally, it’s a great loss to me not being able to go.
Lisa does ring me and so does Janet [staff members]. The Samaritans are really lovely. They are a listening ear and they don’t, you know, condemn or say anything, make judgements and they’re an incredible organisation, they really are. It’s nice when Janet phones. It’s just nice to be able to talk about how you feel. You wouldn’t believe the Samaritans, and Archway in particular, because I’m not always low, I have my ups and downs. I think just going to Archway (to a pre-pandemic social group), even if you just sit there. I mean you don’t just sit there because people talk to you and that’s what’s so lovely about it. You are never left sitting on your own, it’s marvellous, it really is.’
‘I have to say Archway, despite all that’s going on with the virus and everything, they are doing their utmost to keep in contact with members. The staff and volunteers are still working hard, and we have not been neglected at all despite all what’s going on and I appreciate it so much.’
And to receive the fortnightly newsletter, The Bright Side, makes you feel good. I always look forward to receiving it. Although we can’t actually meet up, it’s just the weekly phone call is another thing. I mean I feel so privileged to have that and I mean I can’t find the right words to express. It’s the only place, organisation or whatever you want to call it, that I’ve gone to and – usually if I haven’t been somewhere, say for two or three weeks, and because I suffer with depression and anxiety, I probably wouldn’t go back – but I never get that feeling at Archway because they are always so pleased to see you again and they are so caring. I’ve never known anything like it before.’
The Archway Foundation has been in Oxford for nearly 40 years, serving people hurt by loneliness.
We currently have an opening for a Fundraising Trustee, to perform the duties of a Trustee of the Archway foundation and assist the Board of Trustees to develop a new approach to fundraising and/or income generation.
The Archway Foundation has continued to support people who are suffering from loneliness. CEO Sheila Furlong counts some of the achievements and successes of an extraordinary year.
‘At the start of 2020 none of us had any idea as to what lay in store.
I am mindful that for many people it has been a really tough year. Some have suffered ill health (physical and mental), others have been bereaved, lost jobs, or had reduced income. So many of us have missed seeing friends, going to our usual places for activity, worship, company or mutual support, be it at Archway and / or elsewhere.
I do not wish to minimize the impact of this but I do want to recognise what has been achieved in this time as Archway staff and volunteers have adapted to the changed circumstances and done everything possible to maintain connection and offer support.
Did you know that since the start of the first lockdown in March:6300 telephone support calls have been made
*17 issues of The Bright Side have been produced and sent to 394 people (280 of these by post)* *250 packages of activities and treats have been posted to the Young Adults* *75 volunteers have been trained (24 of them completely new to Archway) via Zoom)as telephone support volunteers* *230 Christmas Goody Bags have been delivered by hand by volunteers and staff* *70 Christmas Goody bags have been wrapped and posted*
Throughout this time the Trustee Board have worked closely with the staff team to keep the service under review and any changes made in line with Government guidance. Risk assessments, policies and practices have been regularly reviewed and updated in line with our changed way of working and this will continue in 2021.
Whilst it is very encouraging to know the vaccine programme is being rolled out, the situation will not instantly change in the New Year and it will be some months before the possibility of resuming face to face contact in groups can be considered. In the meantime Archway continues to keep connections through telephone, email and post. As always, we are indebted to our volunteers who have made calls, stuffed envelopes, wrapped parcels and delivered goody bags.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support of Archway in reading this Newswire and taking an interest in our work. Some of you are regular and one off donors and your support is very valuable to us as like most charities, we face some financial challenges in the coming year. In keeping with Archway’s Christian Foundations some of you pray regularly for the work of Archway and we value your commitment in this
Wherever and however you are spending this Christmas and New Year may it be all that you need it to be.
With grateful thanks and warmest Christmas greetings.
Recent news reports of higher levels of loneliness than ever.
According to the ONS, in the week up to 1 November there were 4.2 million adults across Britain who said they were ALWAYS or OFTEN LONELY – compared with 2.6 million in parts of the summer and before the pandemic. This means approximately 10,000 people in Oxfordshire . This includes people in your community.
We have responded with a Telephone Support Service, which is highly valued and effective at reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation.
You can make a huge difference to someone’s life, with the gift of a small amount of your time.
If you can spare a few hours a week, we’d love to hear from you: Call and leave a message on 01865 790552, email email@example.com or find more information and apply to become a volunteer here.
Social distancing means Archway’s scheduled fund-raising events have been postponed so we need to think creatively about how to do fund-raising in a different way
Archway are delighted to share the news that on Tuesday 5th May ‘Giving Tuesday’ Jacqueline Cole, our office and finance administrator, and her family, (see below!) are running a half marathon relay (in their locality and on the treadmill) in aid of Archway.
The Cole family have set a modest fund-raising target of £500. Let’s help them to exceed that amount by donating using the button below!
Click here to donate to the Cole Family Fundraising Page for Archway!
March and April 2020 has brought major challenges and changes for us all. Another way Archway has been able to adapt its services is the launch of a new newsletter ‘The Bright Side’. Promotions & Communications Coordinator Conrad tell us more:
“The first week of ‘lockdown’ felt like pulling a U-turn – we were all working out, individually and as a team, personally and professionally – how to adjust to a new way of doing things. Thankfully although only a small organisation, Archway has always been forward thinking about working flexibly so we were all used to and equipped for a degree of working from home.
“The immediate challenge was best to support and keep in contact with Archway Friends without the use of face-to-face services, and alongside the telephone support service, a regular newsletter seemed like a good way of letting Friends know that Archway know they’re there and are thinking of them.“
Our new fortnightly newsletter the ‘The Bright Side’ has two sides to it – the first being unequivocally and unapologetically good news! The mainstream media have ensured there’s no shortage of or escape from alarming stories, so we wanted to provide a reassuring, regular, reliable place for Friends to have one guaranteed moment in their week to enjoy views from the Royal Horticultural Society gardens or the local goings-on of our news-hound Charlie the Norfolk Terrier.
The simple experience of receiving a letter addressed to you (that isn’t a bill or junk mail) can make a big difference to someone’s day.
“The second side is a simple noticeboard with essential information and reminders about keeping healthy, staying in touch, useful numbers etc and are starting to receive more ideas and contributions from Friends.
While things are still very uncertain for the foreseeable future, ‘a little goes a long way’ still stands true for loneliness and it’s good to be part of a team doing everything they can to improve life for people who are struggling on their own.”
Calling all knitters! Archway’s Susan Scott has come up with a great project to create something by and for Friends, Volunteers & Staff while we’re at home – an Archway Community Blanket! Instructions below:
Cast on to size 6 needles, using double knitting wool, 30 stitches. This should make a square of roughly 8 inches.
Measure across and knit down until the same measurement (knit a row, purl a row). Any colours or stitch (eg Stocking stitch) will do!
Collect your squares and keep to be washed – Archway will organise a collection at a later date.
We hope to be able to show the blanket at social groups once they’ve reopened and possibly auction it at a later date. We’ll keep you posted!