Football fans who spent months collecting food donations outside supermarkets are at it again as we enter a second wave of Covid-19.
The Dons Local Action Group, set up by fans of AFC Wimbledon football club in March to provide food and support for people shielding during lockdown, is raising money to help the most vulnerable again.
“We’ve basically gone from Covid-response through to permanent entity,” says Xavier Wiggins, 49, the co-founder and director of the group.
The Dons have an army of 1,500 volunteers and have distributed 35,000 one-week food packs to people.
They have also helped out local food banks, provided people with furniture and even set up a Keep Kids Connected Scheme – delivering 850 computers to children who needed them for home learning during the lockdown.
One person the Dons group has helped is John Howard, 79, who lives near Wimbledon Common.
Not only has he been receiving food parcels, but the Dons have also helped him get in touch with Wandsworth council to tackle damp and mould in his flat.
“I’m an old boy, and they’ve been wonderful, absolutely wonderful, I’d give them a gold star all day long,” he said.
He first found out about the group on a shopping trip to his local Sainsbury’s in Putney.
He said: “I said I’m not a football fan, but they asked if I needed some help.”
“I said, ‘well yeah.’ So anyway I came home and within an hour they had delivered a little food parcel, which was lovely, and ever since then they’ve been brilliant.
“You build up a sort of relationship, they’re all lovely, the people are lovely, and they’re very reliable and the best bar none of these charities.”
He said someone from the group visits him “once a fortnight or sometimes once a week”.
From starting out with a small stall outside Morrisons in Wimbledon, the group has grown, and has just been awarded a grant of £7,650 from Wandsworth council as part of its £50,000 Covid-19 Food and Essentials Fund.
The team is now raising more money to buy a van to help deliver food to more people in need.
“Because we’re always trying to do so much and there’s so much need, to this day our main challenge is getting enough volunteers at the point that we need them,” said Xavier.
If you would like to volunteer for the Dons, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also donate here.
Caption: The Dons Local Action Group has been helping people throughout the pandemic
Please support your local paper by making a donation
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.