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A Day with Dons Local Action Group

A behind-the-scenes look at our remarkable charity

2 June 2022

As you enter the DLAG Hub at 8 Waterside Way – just a mere road or so away from the Cherry Red Records Stadium – it’s hard not to be taken aback by the sheer scale of the operation that takes place on a daily basis.

Hardworking volunteers from all types of backgrounds are giving up their free time to help the people who are most in need in our local community – a truly remarkable thing that sums up just how far kindness can go.

Food boxes are being put together, catering to various groups such as pescatarians, vegetarians and vegans. This includes long-lasting foods which typically keep families fed for a week, including fruit and vegetables for a balanced, nutritious diet.

Sarah Wilson got involved with the group after being informed about it by her husband and sons – all of whom are AFC Wimbledon season ticket holders – and was immediately keen to get involved and help.

Starting out initially as a collector in Surbiton, she also went on to help out with deliveries and is now part of the team that packages up the food boxes.

“DLAG started out at the beginning of lockdown and was set up to help those who couldn’t leave their homes to get essentials,” explained Sarah. “We visited other food bank agencies in order to gain an understanding of what we needed to be put together in these packages. We decided that we wanted to make ours even better – we do that by adding in the fresh fruit and vegetables. This ensures that there is enough for people to have a portion of fruit or veg every day.

“I’ve got three sons and I cannot ever imagine not being able to feed them. The idea of knowing that we can help these people to keep their children fed nutritiously makes it all worthwhile for me.”

Another unique quality of DLAG is that these food boxes are delivered directly to people’s homes, with an army of drivers helping to ferry packages of essentials to various locations both in and around the borough of Merton.

Tim Marshall, who is Deputy Head of Operations at the Group, first got involved after DLAG answered a call for help from his wife’s charity, Jigzaw4u, after their food bank ran dry during the early stages of the pandemic. He now manages the Group’s volunteers and is part of the team of drivers.

“When you do deliveries and you see the reactions from people - they’re overwhelmed with happiness,” said Tim. “You’re giving them food at the end of the day, it’s a small thing but it means a hell of a lot to people. It takes the financial strain off them.

“We have created a family feel amongst our volunteers and it’s a role that has helped me to develop a new skill.”

We then accompanied Alan Turpin to one of the various stalls within the borough, initially plotting up at Morrisons in Wimbledon town centre, where donations were collected ready for transportation back to the hub.

After that task was complete we took a short walk to Sainsbury’s, where we met Tony Raymond, who was in the middle of his 2pm till 5pm shift. Tony is retired and was looking for a new purpose in his life – which is where DLAG has come in.

“I’ve enjoyed getting to know the regulars,” said Tony. “You get to experience the wide range of generosity from the public and sometimes you even get to stand in the sunshine. What more do you want!”

The enthusiasm from the volunteers is nothing short of infectious and it is clear to see why this organisation has such a lasting effect on our local community.

Here DLAG Co-Founder, Craig Wellstead, explains how you can also help with the Group’s efforts to end poverty:

“Dons Local Action Group is all about our wonderful volunteers who collect, arrange and deliver food to local people who need a little help at the moment. I am truly honoured to be part of this wonderful family. If you would like to join this amazing group, please call 0203 301 4511 or email info@donslocalaction.org."

We've put together a video featuring several volunteers that contribute to the DLAG operation. Click on the link below to watch it.

With thanks to Stephen Kelly, Louisa Knox, Tony Raymond, Sarah Wilson, Tim Marshall, Aishling Moore, Linda Spillane, Samantha Mayfield, Alan Turpin and Craig Wellstead. You are an inspiration to us all.


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