The Archway Foundation (Archway) was founded in Oxford in 1982 to help relieve some of the distress caused by loneliness. Over 9 million people in the UK – almost a fifth of the population – say they are always or often lonely, and its effects include deterioration in mental and physical health as well as emotional distress. For more than 37 years Archway has been a key source of support to many people in and around the Oxford area through social groups in Oxford and Abingdon, and via its Individual Support Service.
In January 2019 Archway was in touch with 293 people, most of whom were referred through Mental Health Practitioners and Social Prescribers. A particular challenge for the organisation is meeting the increasingly complex needs of those being referred, with loneliness often presenting alongside other difficulties such as mental health (currently 48% of service users have a diagnosis of mental health issues, and ten required hospitalisation for mental health reasons over the last year), and physical disability such as sight, hearing loss or mobility problems.
The impact of the organisation is perhaps shown best through recent (2018) surveys of service users who reported an improvement in confidence and self-esteem (89%), increased ability to discuss their needs with health professionals to access the support they need (83%, with 35% requiring fewer appointments as a result), and greater ability to make friends in the community (78%) and to help others (77%). In addition Archway has won a number of awards including the Queen’s Award (2007), Charity of the Year for the company Infinium in 2012, and, more recently, VWHDC’s ‘Unsung Hero of the Year’ (2019) and Blenheim Palace’s Charity of the Year (2018-9) with volunteers recognised regularly in awards schemes by Oxford City Council and Oxford Community and Voluntary Action (OCVA). The expertise of its CEO is recognised through invitations to assist local initiatives in loneliness and through invitations as a speaker.
Archway's Board of 9 trustees with wide ranging skills provide sound governance and strategic direction, working with a dedicated staff team of 8 staff (5.4 WTE) and over 100 volunteers to fulfil Archway's 3 strategic aims :