The Wimbledon Guild
Today our wide-ranging services are available at little or no cost to people who live or work in Merton. We are currently providing more services to more people than at any other time in our history. Many local people experiencing financial, material and emotional hardship are unable to get the support they need anywhere else.
We provide free independent and professional advice services from an experienced team and clients to our counselling services pay only what they can afford. Counselling is completely free for under 18s. Families are key clients for our Small Grants Programme. The over 50s can be as active as they wish with our clubs and classes programme and our cafe welcomes diners each weekday. Our befrienders make regular visits to local people who are virtually housebound. We run a charity shop in Mitcham too. Our premises are used by 27 groups and over 270 volunteers currently take part in our volunteering programme.
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.
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 birth 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.