Our brilliant volunteers have won a prestigious national award – alongside Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford – after distributing £5million worth of food during the Covid crisis.
The Dons Local Action Group (DLAG) is one of only four recipients of the Sport for Social Change Award, with Rashford, former football star and manager Lou Macari and anti-racism broadcaster Ebony Rainford-Brent the other winners. Their work was described as an “extraordinary contribution”.
“To be mentioned in the same breath as people like Marcus Rashford and the others is really special for us,” said an emotional Xavier Wiggins, who co-founded the DLAG. “What I love most is that an award like this empowers our volunteers to keep on going. Last month another 150 joined us and we’ve even started adding shifts and extra days.”
The award, organised by the Sports Journalists’ Association (SJA), will be formally presented on December 10 and comes after an incredible nine months for Xavier and his team.
Back in March, their initial aim was to get food boxes to local people who were struggling when the pandemic first struck. Now, they supply 140,000 food boxes, as well as furniture and laptops to local children, and have over 2,000 volunteers ready to help.
“I think many have woken up to the idea that if we want our community to be a better place then we have to take responsibility ourselves and not rely on someone else to do it,” said Xavier.
“Nobody should be in food poverty in this country. With goodwill and support we can eradicate it. That’s the goal.”
SJA chair Ashley Broadley said: “The Dons Local Action Group’s work is a terrific example of the positive impact football clubs can have on local communities.”
Besides delivering food boxes to local people, the DLAG also supplies major charities, churches and food banks. Donations come from local businesses, stores and shops – but primarily from shoppers who regularly leave items at the DLAG stalls outside local supermarkets.
“Ninety-five per cent of what we collect comes from shoppers,” said Xavier. “It’s their generosity that has made this work.”
The awards’ ceremony will be live streamed from 2pm at www.TheBritishSportsAwards.co.uk and will include an interview with Xavier and our lead professional phase coach, Mark Robinson.
“Football has enormous pulling power,” continued Xavier. “That ethos has always been at the heart of AFC Wimbledon, it’s driven the club on and helped pull everyone together. We can be a major force – especially now we are back in our homeland at Plough Lane.”
Our chief executive Joe Palmer added: “The DLAG are an enormous credit to our club and we are incredibly proud of their work – and their achievements, including this award. Alongside our AFCW Foundation, they underline how determined we are, as a club, to make a real difference in our community.”