Our history

Since 1907 we have provided services to support people of all ages at little or no cost who live or work in Merton. We currently provide more services to more people than at any time in our history. 

The early years

In 1907 the Mayor of Wimbledon presided over a meeting to amalgamate the then existing voluntary charities with the result that the Wimbledon Guild of Social Welfare was formed. From 1918 until quite recently, the Mayor of Wimbledon and then of Merton was also President of The Wimbledon Guild.

It was set up to "minister to the needs of the honest poor" and was known as The Guild of Help. The principles we adopted were based on the Elberfeld System, imported from Germany in the mid Nineteenth century.

This involved studying the conditions that caused distress in people so that volunteers could help them out of their immediate crisis to recover "their independence and self respect". Personal service was seen as the truest form of charity. The Guild of Help dealt with 311 cases in 1907.

Before the war

Before the First World War the Guild became very involved with the condition of children within the Borough, many of whom would beg food from the shops in the Broadway. In conjunction with the N.S.P.C.C. the situation was closely monitored. By the time of the outbreak of war, the Guild was dealing annually with 3,000 enquiries.

By responding innovatively to the needs of the people in the Borough during its early history, the Guild gave rise to several other organisations. In 1920 the Wimbledon Public Utility Society (later renamed Wimbledon Housing Association) was formed to provide low cost housing to those in need. In 1992 the W.H.A. disbanded and the housing stock was donated to the Guild.

Between the wars

In 1927 The Wimbledon Guild was influential in the passing of an Act of Parliament, which stipulated the standards of Residential Care.

By 1935 The Wimbledon Guild was firmly established in Worple Road. By 1939 one of the first Citizen's Advice Bureaux had been opened with the assistance of The Guild.

During the Second World War

During the Second World War, The Wimbledon Guild became a focus for community services. These included the billeting of refugees and searching and caring for the victims of air raids and their subsequent care. The Guild premises were themselves damaged eight times as a result of the bombing.

Demand for our services is still growing

In recent times, demand for our services has increased but due to government cutbacks there are fewer resources available to meet those needs. Our financial independence means we have been able to meet most of those demands. This independence is mainly due to the donations and legacies that have been received over the years through the generosity of the residents of Merton.

We need your help...

Every year, we provide financial and emotional support to over 2,000 people in our local community. Since Covid-19 that number has increased, and as well as helping our existing clients, we’re now also providing urgent support to hundreds more local people whose lives and livelihoods have been impacted by the pandemic.