Lindsay was an activist and a poet, ardently campaigning for better mental health services and ensuring people’s voices are heard. She inspired love and friendship in many and had a profound influence on those she encountered.
Lindsay was born in Edinburgh on 1st January 1993. She went to South Morningside primary school and Boroughmuir High School, where she caused trouble by refusing to wear school uniform and challenging teachers. As a natural rebel and skilled campaigner though, she knew when to switch tactics: on her last day of school she carefully dressed herself in the full Boroughmuir school uniform, just to show that she could.
For many years she was an enthusiastic member of the Woodcraft Folk, an environmental education movement for children. She helped with the Powerpod, a traveling exhibition on renewable energy funded by the Scottish Government. She went away on camps, walked up hills in the rain and sun and made many good friends.
In 2010 Lindsay went to Atlantic College in Wales, where she forged many strong and lasting friendships. She loved most of her time there, and studied to win an International Baccalaureate. She went to a climate change summit in Cancun, Mexico, to help small island nations, and she took a group of volunteers to help the local community on the island of Lewis off the west coast of Scotland, where her grandmother came from.
At Atlantic College she saw friends trying to deal with serious mental health problems and she began her own struggle with demons. One of her responses was to launch a campaign, called “1,000 voices” – an online platform where young people could share their experiences of mental health issues. She won support for this from TV star Stephen Fry, and was featured in a story in the Edinburgh Evening News in September 2011. After Lindsay died, the journalist who wrote the story, Catherine Salmond, recalled meeting her. “It was one of those interviews you never forget,” she said. “Articulate, impassioned and wise way beyond her then teenage years.”
After Atlantic College, Lindsay won a place at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, where she ended up getting a first in history and becoming an expert on Middle East politics. She helped the Green MP Caroline Lucas and worked with the Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith to win greater accountability for politicians. She started a petition demanding formal investigation into the Met police following the ‘Cops off Campus’ protests which gained nearly 5,000 signatures and which she handed over to the London Met Commissioner, triggering a formal investigation.
Lindsay joined 38 Degrees , a digital activism platform as a volunteer and later as an employee. She worked for the Camden NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) where she set up a working group to enable mental health service users and carers to voice their ideas for change. Then she got a job with the mental health charity Rethink Mental Illness as Service Development Officer, building more effective services and support for people with mental health needs. She worked hard and moved things on.
All the time, though, she was wrestling with serious mental health problems of her own,and powerful desires to end her life. When this reached crisis point, she admitted herself to Highgate Mental Health Centre, where she spent a year, before moving to Cornerstone House in Borehamwood. In December 2017, following 18 months in mental health hospitals, Lindsay took her own life on the eve of her 25th birthday, ending her long and difficult struggle with serious and poorly understood mental health problems. Whilst Lindsay never obtained a full and clear diagnosis, we know it included aspects of personality disorder and autism.
What’s really remarkable about Lindsay’s last 18 months is the amount of effort she put into staying alive. While in hospital, poems poured out of Lindsay. They were dark, insightful and heartfelt. She performed as a semi-finalist in the Roundhouse 2017 Spoken Word competition, posted others on SoundCloud and YouTube and joined a poetry collective on Sunday afternoons, which she loved. Her words continue to inspire us and this Fund’s aims.