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Community Bytes

A newsletter from your local charity focusing on community spaces across Merton, and how we use these to connect people, places and passions.
A Note From The Wimbledon Community Association (WCA)

Welcome to Community Bytes, our quarterly e-newsletter that brings you Merton related community news, alongside a range of other topics and events happening across our borough.

In this edition, we focus on Merton's collective recovery from the Covid-19 Pandemic, and all of the ways that we are now focusing on building back better.

Our Wimblecomm Spotlights include the Dons Local Action Group who share their future plans and talk to us about volunteering in Merton. John Merriman, a very active, determined and creative member of the Merton community who has recently opened a new community space in the heart of Morden. Cranleigh Tennis Club who have managed to safely re-open their venue and welcome new members, and the return of Girls' Rugby at Old Ruts in Merton Park.

On Wimblecomm, we have been reminded of the importance of our online presence, and our role in supporting Merton's community venues to build back better. In recent months, we have created a support system for our Members, and continue to provide resources that can help them feel confident in safely re-opening their venues and accommodating the people of Merton.

More community related content continues on our blog so be sure to keep an eye on Wimblecomm, our Covid-19 Hub, and the many other sections of our Community Hub for updates in between these quarterly newsletters. Enjoy this #BuildBackBetter edition of Community Bytes, and we encourage you to connect with us on social media to stay updated on all Wimblecomm matters.

If you would like to receive future editions straight to your inbox, make sure you visit us at Wimblecomm and subscribe.

The Team at WCA & Wimblecomm

How Has Lockdown Affected Us?

When the Covid-19 Pandemic began to take hold in the UK back in March and the lockdown started, predictions on its seriousness varied.  Almost 6 months later we all know the impact this horrible virus has had and continues to have. Most people will know someone who has contracted the virus, and some will have lost loved ones who have fallen to its insidious effect.

The effect on the economy has also been dramatic and many people and businesses have suffered from reduced income or lost their livelihood or jobs.  The effect on people’s mental health as well as their physical health has also been considerable.

As we have set out elsewhere in this edition of Community Bytes, we at Wimblecomm have tried to remain positive and keep our staff busy during this time by focussing on ways we can support the community, and by reporting on the inspiring stories that we have seen across Merton with people volunteering and donating to help those most in need.

And now as we collectively take the tentative steps towards a new normal, we are keen to extend that support where we can and #BuildBackBetter.

However, whilst we are fortunate, as a local charity, to have reserves which we can draw on to support our endeavours, we do also rely heavily on voluntary effort ourselves.

Having originally stepped into the breach with two (now former) trustees and our Secretary (Jackie Chapman) back in 2012 when the old community centre in St Georges Road sadly had to be closed, we know all too well the amount of unpaid work which has to go in to keep organisations going during challenging times.

Next year will be the 75th Anniversary of Wimbledon Community Association (WCA) and we are planning to produce a number of articles and host one or more events (virtually or in person!) to celebrate that milestone.    We are always open to hearing more of your stories, including those which may relate to the WCA history.

The picture above is an original poster from 1946 when a centre was first considered.  Although it took another decade to come to fruition, many people will look back fondly on its presence in the community - and indeed our ability to congregate freely in such a venue without fear of contagion! Hopefully one day we will see that return.

For now we are continuing with our virtual existence and would love to have more people join us and, in due course, step up to become trustees so that we have a succession plan in place to keep this wonderful, long-standing institution going.

If you have some time to devote and would enjoy connecting the people and places of Merton through our online Community Hub Wimblecomm, please get in touch.

To give you an idea of what it's like to work with us, click here to see what some of our Volunteers and Trustees had to say about their volunteering experience with the WCA and Wimblecomm.

Written by David Hall, WCA Chair

Ongoing Covid-19 Response in Merton
Although many aspects of our society have re-opened, there are still people who require additional help and support.

We receive a number of calls from members of the public who are keen to volunteer, donate items, or access our borough's voluntary services, so we have created the following page to outline the resources that are still available to support people in Merton.

How is Merton Building Back Better Post the Covid-19 Pandemic?

Throughout lockdown, Zoom calls and webinars have had the job of replacing almost all of our physical interactions. Whilst they have done a considerably good job, we are looking forward to getting back into community spaces and enjoying the things that we love in the places we love.

In July, we hosted a #BuildBackBetter webinar with Locality to support community venues across Merton, and have since shared an insightful vlog from Naomi Martin concerning some of the challenges that Merton's community venues continue to face as they work towards re-opening.

Cranleigh Tennis Club Have Aced It

This July, we spoke to Cranleigh Tennis & Social Club, Surrey Tennis LTA Club of the Year in 2018/19, to find out their story & discuss how they've managed to get back to doing what they do best after the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Click here to read the full article and see how this community sports club in Merton Park have managed to build back better and start welcoming new members again.

The Dons Local Action Group Plan to Stay...

When we speak of Merton's reaction to the Covid-19 Pandemic, one of the groups that spring to mind are the Dons Local Action Group. As part of our Wimblecomm Spotlight series, Genevieve spoke to Xavier Wiggins, one of the DLAG Founders, to learn more about how the group came together, how they have managed to recruit over 1500 volunteers thus far, and what their plans for the future entail. Click here to read the full article and discover what this fantastic group have in store for Merton and beyond.

John Merriman Speaks on Building Back Better & Opening a New Business Mid-Pandemic

Very few people would be brave enough to open a new physical premises in the middle of a global pandemic, but John Merriman is someone that does not like giving up. Just before he opened his new community space in Morden, he invited Genevieve down for an exclusive peek of Metronome, and a very honest and inspirational conversation.

Speaking on everything from overcoming obstacles, to his love for Morden, to what drives him to do so much for the Merton community, John shares what community means to him, and tells us how he uses creativity to inspire change. Click here to read the full article on Wimblecomm.

Girls' Rugby at Old Ruts Returns
The Tigers are Back!

Earlier this year, shortly before club rugby was suspended during lockdown, we caught up with Rob Agnew who heads up the Girls' Rugby section at Old Ruts, the community driven, family oriented and inclusive club based in the heart of Merton Park. In recent weeks, we have been thrilled to see them successfully re-open and re-start Covid-19 adapted training in their Cricket, Rugby and Football sections.  

In this article, Rob shares the story of girls' rugby at the club and why he thinks all girls should consider having a go at playing the sport. The 2020/21 season is just starting, and new members, including those who have never played tag or contact rugby, are welcome to join them now and throughout the year! Click here to read the full article on Wimblecomm.
Upcoming Events in Merton

The Summer Holidays may have come to a close, but this year's Summer Reading Challenge will continue until 30th September 2020. This means that children in Merton still have time to read 6 (or more) books and be entered into this year's prize draw which could see them win a new tablet. We sponsored this prize for another consecutive year as we feel that it's a fantastic way to keep Merton's children reading and support our libraries.

On another positive note, Wimbledon, Morden and Mitcham Libraries have now re-opened for browsing! The Click and Collect service, and use of some computers, will still be provided at all 7 of Merton's libraries. Your visit may feel a bit different to usual, so please check their website before you visit for more information.

Throughout lockdown, you might have been a bit more active in your gardens and/or kitchens making the most of what you have. These are two things that Abundance Wimbledon are renowned for, as they make the most of local fruit in Merton.

On the 19th September, their 9th annual Fruit Day returns with lots of fresh produce including Jam and Chutney available for sale. Click here for more information on this event.

For more events happening across the borough, keep visiting our regularly updated What's On page. If there are any other community events that you would like to submit or think we should feature, please don't hesitate to get in touch.
How are you Connecting with your Local Community?
During lockdown, we continued to share your positive stories on our blog and featured Wimbledon Choral's virtual performance which raised money for Musicians UK, stories from Sustainable Merton's Community Champions, and a celebration of a much-loved green space in the borough.
As we look forward to all of the great things to come for Merton, including the continued works of the Dons Local Action Group and Morden's newest Coffee House & Events space Metronome, we will continue using the #ConnectingMerton hashtag on social media to share positive news stories on how Merton is building back better.
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Copyright © 2018 Wimbledon Community Association, All rights reserved.
We are creating this local newsletter as a part of our community service to keep members of the local community up-to-date with all things happening in Merton. Alongside our website 'Wimblecomm'; we actively support not-for-profit venues in the local area who hire out space and help to connect people with places, and their passions.

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Our mailing address is:
Wimbledon Community Association Limited
c/o 66 Kings Road
London SW19 8QW


Registered Charity No 1097305
Company Number 03825493

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Wimbledon Community Association · 66 Kings Road · Wimbledon, London SW19 8QW · United Kingdom

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