On our Wimblecomm Spotlight, we invite local people, charities or community spaces who make positive contributions to Merton to share their story on our Community Hub and spread the word on their good works.
As our national lockdown reached its 8-week mark, we decided to catch up with Wimbledon Guild to learn about their story, and how they are adapting their services as a result of Covid-19.
Who are you and what venue are you representing?
Hello, I’m Phil, and I’m the Marketing and Comms Manager at Wimbledon Guild.
What does a typical day at your venue look like?
We like to say that there is no such thing as a typical day at Wimbledon Guild, as it’s always so varied! As well as people arriving to take part in one of our activities, we also have an exceptionally busy café.
Our small grants and wellbeing support teams meet people throughout the day to assess how Wimbledon Guild can best support them.
We also work with Citizens Advice to provide free, face to face advice to residents of Merton.
What types of activities and events take place at your venue?
We run over 120 activities a month, to help keep people active, healthy and sociable. On a Monday for example we have several exercise classes, including one for those living with the effects of a stroke, as well as table tennis and a tap dance class. We have a café which serves up delicious freshly cooked meals to our clients, and a talking therapies department offering individual, group and family therapy.
Do you cater to any particular groups of people in society such as young people, families or the older generation?
Our activities, clubs, classes, trips and talks are all designed specifically for those over 50, but our other services are open to adults of all ages and nearly all of our costs are subsidised for those in financial difficulty.
What is unique about your venues offering? What would you say to someone who has never been to your venue before?
Wimbledon Guild offers something for everyone. We have so many different clubs and activities you are bound to find something that suits you, and who knows, you might find something new you enjoy!
Is there something that has happened at your venue in the past year that you would regard as a highlight or success story?
Over 2,000 people were supported through our venue last year by our services. In addition, many more people were supported by local community organisations which use our facilities including Alcoholics Anonymous, Mencap, Rethink, Headway and Merton Home tutoring.
In terms of providing a community service in Merton, what do you think your venue do well?
We offer not just a place for those who might not have anywhere else to go, but also a community. Wimbledon Guild is like an extended family, with clients often becoming volunteers in other areas and staff who know the names of everyone who steps though the door.
How can the people of Merton get involved and help to support your venue?
There are many ways people can get involved. First and foremost is by volunteering. We are always on the lookout for volunteers to help with our activities and classes, to cook and serve in our HomeFood Café, to work in our charity shop in Mitcham and to assist running our fundraising events.
As well as volunteering you can also attend our fundraising events, set up a fundraising activity yourself (such as a running race), shop in our charity shop or donate money.
What is the best way for people to stay updated on news, events and activities happening at your venue?
Our website www.wimbledonguild.co.uk has our full programme of events and activities on it, as well as outlining all of our services. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or just pop in to see us and pick up a copy of “What’s on,” our quarterly programme.
Now a few questions considering the impact of Covid-19…
The Covid-19 Pandemic has affected people globally, and here in Merton we have seen it affect our community venues in several different ways. How has it affected Wimbledon Guild?
Wimbledon Guild has been profoundly affected by the pandemic. Our building has been closed to members of the public since the lockdown began forcing a complete rethink of how we work. Services such as Talking Therapies, Befriending, and Grief Support all became telephone based, while our café kitchen is now cooking meals for home delivery. Some of our activities and clubs have been using Zoom to continue, and many of our staff and volunteers have been involved in regular calls to all our clients as well as delivering vital supplies to those in need. We have also been working with the council and other organisations around Merton to coordinate support for vulnerable people.
Moving forwards, do you think Covid-19 will change the way that you operate?
Absolutely. Even once it is safe for our building to reopen, the effects of the pandemic will continue to be felt. Many of our clients are among the most vulnerable and may need continued support in their homes. There will be changes too in the building itself, where we imagine some form of social distancing will have to continue for some time to come.
There is always something to learn from difficult times and experiences, what will your venue be taking away from this Covid-19 Pandemic?
Wimbledon Guild has been overwhelmed by the support we have had from the local community during this time. We will certainly come out of this with an even greater awareness and appreciation of the fantastic community spirit all around Merton than we had before.
On a more practice level, we have also learnt a lot about working remotely and connecting with our clients online, skills we will continue to apply to reach those who perhaps cannot always travel to our venue.
Is there anything else that you would like to share as part of your venue’s Wimblecomm Spotlight?
Just because our doors are physically closed currently, it doesn’t mean that our services have stopped. We have several online activities taking place and our staff are always on hand to help out in any way they can.
We hope you have enjoyed this latest edition of our #WimblecommSpotlight series featuring Wimbledon Guild who are one of our listed venues and a great local charity working hard to support the community. Continue reading our blog for more of these features with individuals, charities, and other community organisations working for the greater good of Merton and beyond.