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Fans-backed project proves to be very popular

AFC Wimbledon Foundation's new initiative is a big hit in Mitcham

5 September 2019

Our Foundation’s community project at Phipps Bridge Youth Centre provided a summer holiday with a difference for children in Mitcham.

In the last week of the four-week ‘Active Womble Summer Scheme’, children watched a National Theatre production of Peter Pan in White City, visited Morden Hall Park, and were taken on a tour of the All England Tennis Club and Museum.

Dons players Terell Thomas and Archie Procter also popped into the community hub in Mitcham to meet children, who participated in multi-sports events, art classes, and even put together a Podcast!

Our players presented certificates and prizes to children, who will be joining us with their parents at a Wimbledon home match later this month.

The community project turned out to be a big hit with 120 kids aged 7-13 participating in a range of activities each day at Phipps Bridge Youth Centre including football / multi-sports, arts, music drama and dance between 10 – 4pm each day.  Children were selected from local schools and Merton Young Carers and other community partners who targeted those who would benefit the most from the project.

Phipps Bridge Youth Centre was kindly provided free of charge by Merton Council’s Youth Service, who played a key partnership role throughout.

AFC Wimbledon’s Foundation Director Philip Rudling said: “The response from children, parents and partners has been excellent and we really seemed to be providing a service that was missing for the local community. Local residents have commented on how it’s good to see provision for young people on the estate and parents have constantly been asking if we can continue the project into next year.  The scope and range of activity was a key factor in the success, providing activity apart from our normal sports offer.  Many children just wanted to hang out and chat with our staff team and the relaxed informal nature of the project worked well.

“This pilot was an opportunity to show the difference we can make in our local community as a club and Foundation.  We now intend to extend this work into other areas and commit resources to those locations that need us the most.”

Kasha Petit, Female Development and Health Officer at our Foundation, said: “We have been delighted with the summer programme and the response to this pilot project from the local community.  Numbers have been fantastic across all four weeks and the children have experienced a range of sports and creative workshops and trips that have really added to their experience.   We would like to thank our brilliant cooking staff Mirelle and Natalie and Fabienne from Bonnaire Arts and Education as they were all with us on every day.”

The scheme was possible thanks to a fantastic fundraising response from Wimbledon supporters, plus community groups. A total of £5,000 was donated by supporters at the AFC Wimbledon Foundation Day – the Accrington Stanley match in April – and there was a very generous £5,000 contribution from a supporter who wishes to remain anonymous. The Taylor Family Foundation provided a generous grant to support the arts-based activities and we’d also like to thank Waitrose Wimbledon for donating £500 to sports kit and providing staff volunteers. Merton Council and Leader Stephen Alambritis kindly allowed the facilities at the youth centre to be used free. Thanks also to Random House Books for providing literature for the children to read and to Mitcham & Morden MP Siobhain McDonagh, who showed her support by visiting the facility during the project.

In case you missed it, a video from our recent visit to Phipps Bridge is available to watch below.

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