In response to the Covid-19 crisis, a remarkable six months has included 1,500 volunteers from the Dons Local Action Group providing food, computers, and furniture for people in the community.
Even helping the homeless has become part of the DLAG’s remit by working with organisations in Merton, Kingston, and Wandsworth. However, the community group has now become much more than an emergency resource for those affected by Covid-19 – and Xavier Wiggins says that it is here to stay.
One fine example of the difference the group can continue to make is with Keep Kids Connected – an initiative that helps to provide home learning for school children – and 800 computer devices have now been delivered by DLAG.
Xavier summed up a superb effort to help the community in so many ways and praised the club and our Foundation for supporting this great cause.
“This is exactly what I think our football club should be about,” said Xavier. “Time and time again as a group of fans we have rewritten the rule book, but there are so many new people involved in the ‘Wimbledon World’ due to the Dons Local Action Group. We have volunteers with no interest in football, but there are many who have developed an interest and are now talking about coming to a game at Plough Lane. As a community club, I think we can be very proud of ourselves: the effort put in by volunteers, the support of our club staff, and the Foundation.
“We partner with around 100 organisations. We take food to people referred to us, including organising bulk deliveries by working with some wonderful organisations. We then take it to the people that need it most. There has been a real coming together across many volunteer groups and charities in Merton, Kingston, and Wandsworth.”
Despite lockdown having been eased and people returning to work, Xavier added that volunteering has become a welcome habit that they want to continue regularly.
“There is a feeling that, even though people are going back to work, they are still keen to have volunteering as something they do, even if they can’t commit to giving up too much time. The Covid-19 crisis has woken people up to that whole volunteer ethos. There was a section of people in society that were not doing it before.
“People can be flexible with their volunteering. It can be after work, or at weekends. We can work around the commitments that people have. Even just for a few hours, it will really help to keep things going.
“There is so much need out there. Our help with providing furniture for those that need it is growing and Keep Kids Connected is providing important computer resources to continue home learning for children after going back to school. We also continue to provide food for people in the community as there is so much poverty.
“People are learning about volunteering: it’s not just about the people you are helping, but there’s also an important element of it helping you as well. It can help people get out, meet people, and to feel worthwhile because they are doing something good. It’s a two-way thing. People are going back to work, but we are still getting new volunteers. We just need more so that we can keep as many of the collection points going as possible.”
The picture above shows John Scales helping out at one of the DLAG stalls on the 32nd anniversary of Wimbledon's FA Cup win at Wembley.
Can you help to continue the fantastic work of DLAG? Play your part in this wonderful success story in the following ways:
- By volunteering - you can work a three-hour shift at one of the collection points and at a time to suit your commitments. Do it with friends and family with two people on each shift, offering a great way to meet people in the community. E-mail DLAGvolunteer@afcwimbledonfoundation.org.uk .
- Fundraising – contribute to raising funds for running costs by making a donation. Visit: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/donslocalaction .
- Donate a computer, laptop, tablet, or iPad (all devices must be under eight years old. For more information: https://donslocalaction.org/keep-kids-connected/ .
- Help the Dons Local Action Group to raise £10,000 for a van to assist collections and deliveries. Visit https://www.avivacommunityfund.co.uk/dons-local-action-group to find out more.