Week 9: Chair’s Weekly Blog – Purpose

What gets you out of bed in the morning? Well, let’s start by getting rid of the obvious: kids, commuting and unavoidable appointments! Beyond those commitments we all have at certain points in our life, the question I often ask myself, particularly since giving up full time work, is why?

I’ll be honest: website administration and sorting out the governance and financial elements for the charity doesn’t always get me tremendously excited, although I did become pretty efficient at some of it when I was earning a regular income and have been able to transfer those skills effectively.

However now, particularly with a recent personal change of circumstances (I’ve ended up having to take my pension early following my separation and upcoming divorce), the focus has changed. Jackie, fellow trustee and longstanding friend, and I have put in an extraordinary number of hours to keep this old charity going over the years, alongside other voluntary commitments.

One of the reasons I still do it is the real desire to make a difference. We are fortunate in one way, as a charity, that we are not bound by any specific requirements linked to our sponsors, grant bodies or even the fees paid by our members – membership is free at present. Our primary source of income is the dividend.

We are duty bound by the Charity Commission, Companies House, HMRC etc and of course our constitution to follow certain protocols and procedures (which believe me can be quite onerous for a small charity) but when we reviewed our purpose back in 2015, we felt that it gave us a pretty broad remit for Wimblecomm.

The website has a very specific function: to provide information. Initially that was about community spaces, but over time we have added community groups, events, blogs, jobs, stories and special events (like Covid) to the site. And the plan from quite early on was ideally to make it the community hub across Merton, not just Wimbledon, bringing together both sides of the borough.

However, websites, social media and other technological forms of connection only go so far in my view. And let’s be honest, most of us spend far too long looking at screens, big or small. My desire with this organisation has always been to use it as a local platform for better connection between people rather than just a directory and bulletin board.

I understand the need for news and advertising and the constant necessity of getting our attention to sell products or get us on side with a particular viewpoint. I studied economics. I’ve worked with politicians and marketing people for years. That is the way of the commercial and political world. I’ve been part of it and still am. We all are.

But like so many of you I’m sure, I despair sometimes of the way a lot of this is presented to us. A lot of the negativity and war-making is fed from an apparent constant desire to polarise people to become adversarial. If you’re not for something, you’re against it.

One of my other passions is theatre and I went on an extraordinary course 5 years ago which opened my eyes to how people connect in ways that brings drama to life. Of course, theatre is also about telling stories and has to be shoehorned into a format in order to entertain, educate and tell those stories effectively. But it also taught me about the true art of connection and is something I’d like to develop further here on Wimblecomm and beyond.

It also goes back to the roots of what I think this charity’s purpose is all about and why it was set up after the war.  I’ll dig further into that next time.

Wimbledon Community Association Limited
c/o 66 Kings Road
Wimbledon
London SW19 8QW

Registered Charity No 1097305
Company Number 03825493

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