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Freemasons’ gift aids South London charity during lockdown

Wimbledon Guild supports people in the Merton area

Submitted by Adrian Hodgson

The London Freemasons Charity donated £4,000 which is being used during the Covid-19 pandemic to assist the work of the Wimbledon Guild, a local charity that supports people in the South West London borough of Merton. Wimbledon Guild has been able to assist hundreds of local people coping with social isolation, mental health concerns, and financial hardship over the lockdown period.

Established in 1907 from a number of local charities, the Guild’s mission is to reduce social isolation and loneliness in the area, help people who are experiencing a broad range of difficulties and enable older people to be active and healthy. The charity supported 128 families and individuals with supermarket and foodbank vouchers and delivered 74 fresh food parcels. The charity also helped set up Merton’s Community Fridge and are now a delivery partner, continuing their work to tackle food poverty in the borough.

Garden gate visits have helped those most at risk of social isolation. Staff and volunteers wear masks and gloves to speak to residents whilst they stand in their doorway in order to observe social distancing. The Guild also has a Talking Therapies team which has been providing individual counseling and psychotherapy via telephone and online.

Commenting on the donation a Guild spokesperson said: “We received over 500 requests for help during the lockdown and 245 people are receiving continued shopping and practical support from our volunteers. Volunteer befrienders are keeping in touch with their friends over the phone, and are making regular calls to 308 people who attended activities at their head office before lockdown. We are most grateful to London Freemasons for their generous gift, which couldn’t have been better timed”

June from Colliers Wood, a beneficiary of the Guild’s work told us: “I needed help with my shopping and felt so guilty having to keep asking people. My daughter lives in Essex and rang the Covid-19 Merton support helpline. Now I have a wonderful volunteer from Wimbledon Guild who does my shopping once a week, and I don’t feel guilty anymore because she says it’s no problem.”

Joe from Wimbledon also receives help from the Guild: “I’m in the most clinically vulnerable shielding category and have been told not to leave the house, even with new lockdown rules. With a few days to go until our next food parcel arrived, we had already run out of food. I called Wimbledon Guild who arranged for a volunteer to start food shopping for us and they also kindly provided a supermarket voucher to help with the cost. Without Wimbledon Guild, I don’t know what I would have done.”

London Masons charity steward Tony Shields commented: “London Masons are delighted to be able to help in this vital local service during the Covid-19 pandemic, this is just one of the recent London Freemasons Charity grants to support a wide range of London based charities. This grant follows on from a recent £2.5 million to fund two ultra-high aerial platforms, six rapid response vehicles and four bariatric stretchers and earlier generous donations of £3 million to Bart’s hospital for the purchase of a cyberknife and £2 million towards the second London Air Ambulance, all of which contribute to saving lives right across this great capital city.”