Our Charity of the Year: The Archway Foundation

The Oxfordshire-based loneliness charity is our official charity of the year for 2019.

The Archway Foundation was founded in Oxford in 1982 to help relieve some of the distress caused by loneliness; offering support, friendship and a listening ear.

The charity is in touch with around 300 people in Oxford and Abingdon at any one time and has a team of 130 volunteers who help with a range of activities including home visits, driving people, hosting meetings and groups and running a call-in café.

Hannah Banfield, who has been volunteering for the charity for more than four years and also works at Blenheim, said:

“We take for granted the social interaction of having a cup of tea and a chat but for those who are lonely this can make a real difference to their week.”

As part of our support, Blenheim will be undertaking a series of fundraising and awareness building activities and events throughout the year as well as forging closer links to the charity.

Stephanie Duncan, Blenheim’s Head of Marketing and PR said:

“Each year we invite all our staff to decide on a locally-based charity for us to support.

We’re delighted to be working with Archway and we have already met with the team there to discuss opportunities and how we can best support them.

As well as supporting the work they do we see this as an opportunity to learn more about the causes and effects of loneliness and how we can do our bit to recognise warning signs both in the workplace and in the wider community.”

Although founded on Christian values the Archway Foundation and its activities are open to all and are available to anyone in need.

Sheila Furlong, Archway Foundation’s CEO, said: 

“We aim to be socially inclusive across all walks of society regardless of age, race, sexual orientation, religion or mental and physical health.

Many other organisations recognise loneliness as something which needs to be addressed, but Archway is unique in that this is its sole focus.

Whilst it works closely with other organisations it maintains its independence, enabling it to cut across boundaries which might otherwise limit its coverage.”

Last year Blenheim raised a total of £6,150 for Bridewell Gardens, a mental health recovery service which provides social and therapeutic horticulture in a working walled garden for adults living in Oxfordshire.

We also handed over a cheque for £14,500 to Maggie's Oxford, which offers free practical, emotional and social support for people with cancer and their families and friends, and was our charity of the year in 2017.

A study by Oxford Brookes Business School showed Blenheim donated and raised money to a total of £1.6m to local projects and charities between April 2017- March 2018, a 52 per cent increase on the previous 12 months.

For more information on the Archway Foundation please visit: www.archwayfoundation.org.uk