Mike Findlay introduces a new charity to Glasgow that has the ability to transform lives through writing.
Us Scots like our literature. We can also boast about our number of well-kent writers: A L Kennedy, Alexander McCall Smith, Ian Rankin, Louise Welsh, to name a few. But the publishing industry can, at times, be dominated by an elite class of people with a good level of education and affluence who do not necessarily represent the whole picture of our diverse population. This is where the Arkbound Foundation comes in.
The Arkbound Foundation is a unique charity that supports diverse and ‘disadvantaged’ authors get published, focusing on work that covers important social justice issues and the environment. It works with people and groups who are socially excluded, including those who have experienced poverty, or have faced adversity due to their mental health, disability, race, gender or sexual orientation. Arkbound supports them, encouraged them, and guides them through the process of book publishing.
I came across Arkbound almost by accident last year. I noticed an advert for a trustee based in Glasgow and was intrigued by their mission. With some trepidation, I made contact. Having never been a trustee before, I wasn’t quite sure what they were looking for or what to expect. Would I be able to juggle the commitment with full-time work? What realistically could I offer? To cut a long story short, I am glad I laid my initial nervousness to rest and made contact. I am now involved getting this exciting venture off the ground in Scotland.
The charity was founded in Bristol in 2017 and has since set up its Scottish office in Glasgow: great news for us! Arkbound Foundation is the charitable branch of Arkbound Publishing, which has its main operations running from Glasgow. This has enabled the charity to fund, edit and print books for authors from disadvantaged backgrounds as a charitable publisher.
The charity has a small office in the east end of Glasgow at the Rogart Street Campus, but its reach is citywide, with plans for world domination in the future.
Since setting up in Glasgow, creative writing workshops have taken place in the Govan Community Centre involving volunteers from the University of Glasgow in support of aspiring authors.
At the start of the year, Arkbound put a call-out to invite more Scottish authors to come forward and publish books over the next year, and the charity is currently working with a number of emerging Scottish writers. In particular Arkbound is looking for authors who can provide insights and real life experience of some of the issues that are often looked in today’s world including social justice, the environment and politics.
This June sees the launch of ‘The Gods of Frequency’ by Shane Johnstone, which is the story of a working-class Glaswegian musician struggling to make a career in the Celtic folk scene.
Scotland is a hotbed of talented contemporary writers who come from tricky backgrounds. If you look at writers such as Kerry Hudson (see Jan/Feb edition of Westender for her interview) or author of Poverty Safari Darren McGarvey (aka the rapper Loki) whose BBC series last year unearthed the gritty reality behind Scotland’s poverty gap.
What is really exciting about Arkbound is its commitment to breaking down the barriers that are associated with getting into journalism and publishing.
It is as much about getting into journalism and the media as it is about publishing. Arkbound is seeking new partnerships with media organisations, magazines and newspapers around the Glasgow area over the coming months who are supportive of the charity’s aims of making the industry more accessible to all.
Val Pospischil, Chair of the Arkbound Foundation, explains: “Being situated in Glasgow creates numerous opportunities for us to get projects underway. We have a small number of staff members and volunteers but our ambitions are big. We really want more people to get involved. This could be anything from volunteering to help at our events, becoming a trustee, or supporting us to reach out to potential partners and funders.
“Our charity believes everyone has the right to tell their story and publish their words. We use writing and storytelling for bringing people together, so we can understand, learn and share from each other. Whatever a person’s background, situation or income Arkbound can support them in writing their stories, and perhaps being published.”
Arkbound’s success in Bristol is something it is keen to replicate in Scotland. Recent publications include Roofless by Stewart Harvey, a compelling anthology of real life stories of homelessness in the UK; and Bury Me Where They Fall, a dark fantasy book by Jonathan Watts.
The charity is making meaningful and lasting change to the lives of people who have experienced adversity.
Arkbound’s free service can fund publishing, networking, signposting, education and training; employment opportunities and facilitating writing events and workshops for any hard to reach groups and individuals.
Steve Mcnaught, Editor in Chief at Arkbound Publishing, comments: “Glasgow has a very rich literacy culture. The fact that we decided to set-up up our Scottish headquarters here is no coincidence. We have the advantage of the close proximity of the city’s universities and colleges, cultural centres, and also major events and festivals such as Book Week Scotland and Aye Write.
“Glaswegians are also well known for their friendliness and this, coupled with the accessibility of the major organisations throughout the city, means there will be plenty of opportunities to create new partnerships.”
Not only are the books that Arkbound publish transformative in terms of turning round the lives and fortunes of the authors that are supported, but they are also powerful in changing public narrative and assumptions around some of the most important issues of the day. Who knows in the future we could be creating the next generation of Hudsons and McGarveys!
Westenders take note – Arkbound needs you! There are a number of you can get involved with Arkbound, from submitting story ideas to volunteering or becoming a trustee. Please email Mike Findlay, Arkbound Foundation Vice-Chair, for more details: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a story idea?
If you have a story idea, please do sent on directly to Arkbound: email@example.com