First-team players and Foundation staff have combined this summer to make local children feel a part of our fantastic ‘Coming Home’ story!
Foundation Director Phil Rudling said that being based at Plough Lane permanently is making a ‘massive difference’ to the delivery of community projects. This has included hosting students from Merton and Wandsworth schools at Plough Lane with a tour of facilities supporting their NCS (National Citizens Service) course.
“We intend to fully utilise the magnificent facilities to establish the ground as a true hub for our local communities,” said Phil. “We are already inviting local school, charities, faith and community groups into the ground to explore future education, health, social inclusion projects. The chance to be part of the ‘Coming Home’ narrative is proving to be a great draw.
“Our new Astro turf pitch will be the icing on the cake for the Foundation and will be fully utilised in our work and through local partners, such as youth teams and sessions including Walking Football, Disability and Kicks youth engagement activity. Finally, activity on matchdays, access to the pitch at end of season and using the larger corporate spaces to host events will again be a game-changer for us.”
Below is a bit more about the summer so far for our Foundation:
Settling into our new home
The Foundation has been operating out of its new base in the West Stand, that doubles as the media suite on matchday, and we are delighted to be able to use the club’s excellent facilities as a launch pad for the expansion of its work across Merton, Wandsworth and Kingston. The incorporation of the Dons Local Action Group under the banner of the Foundation, whilst retaining their independence and fluidity of action, means that the income and reach of Foundation-led activity has growth exponentially over the last 15 months and demonstrated the impact and connection this work has made in our local areas. The aim for the Foundation is to continue this growth as we return to normality and maximise the new opportunities that will arise in the education, community and health sectors for a community sports-based charity.
One key opportunity is the opening of a five a side pitch, largely Football Foundation and benefactor funded, that will operate from the north west corner of the stadium, adjacent to the North Stand. This facility will run from 8.00 am until 6.00 pm each day for community-based sessions, led either by the Foundation, or for partners such as disability and mental heath groups and schools. In the peak evening periods from 6.00 pm until 10.00 pm the pitch will be open to bookings from local youth teams, sports clubs and commercial hire with older users able to access the club’s pub post-match! For booking information please contact email@example.com.
We are also particularly keen to maximise the number of schools across our three boroughs that engage with the Foundation and club and will be inviting as many as possible to visit the stadium and make use of the Astro pitch and to attend matches and activities that the Foundation will be running from the Oxford game as part of the Family Zone located behind the East Stand.
Summer Programme Update
NCS ( National Citizens Service)
We ran our first wave of NCS with 50 young people aged 16 / 17 recruited from largely Merton and Wandsworth schools, based at the Aspire Centre, Southfields. The young people completed an intensive programme of workshops on personal development and skills building over the two weeks and also took part in outward bound activity at Thames Mariners, Teddington ( Raft building and racing) and Go Ape High Rope in Battersea Park. Siobhain McDonagh MP also held a workshop for all four groups in Week One, outlining her role as an MP and highlighting local issues. On the second week all 50 students spent a day volunteering at DLAG stalls outside supermarkets and created their own social action projects and campaign, including collecting donated clothes and £200 for homeless charities, highlighting a local Rape Crisis charity, and environmental issues.
Active Dons Courses
During the summer holidays we have delivered Merton HAF (Holiday activity Fund) summer courses at Cranmer Primary and supported school led delivery at Haslemere Primary schools to 50 children aged 8 - 12 at each venue, providing a mixture of multi-sports, dance, drama and arts activities. We also ran a similar Active Dons camp at Smallwood School, Wandsworth for 40 children and have two further weeks planned at Broadwater Primary, Tooting. All projects are targeted at children and families on Free School Meals / Pupil Premium and provide a free summer provision including hot meals for disadvantaged families. Sessions have run well particularly with visits from our first team squad and AFC Wimbledon Ladies players at all sites, and academy players working each Wednesday, at each site. During the past week Liberty Primary School and Bywater Primary School have benefited from the Active Dons course and the main photograph above shows our goalkeeper Zaki Oualah and Alex Woodyard with children.