Xavier Dons Local Action Group

Local Hero: Dons Local Action Group

Local Hero: Dons Local Action Group

Dons Local Action Group has brought together a volunteer army. Vote for them now in our local hero awards…

When the lockdown began in March, Wimbledon Football Club fan Xavier Wiggins knew he needed to help those in need. Just months earlier, he had already helped launch a phenomenal fund-raising initiative, the Plough Lane Bond, to raise £5m that the club needed for its new stadium. He was no stranger to a challenge but what he has achieved, together with co-founders of the Dons Local Action Group, Craig Wellstead and Cormac van der Hoeven, is truly incredible. Teaming up with volunteers at the Old Wimbledonians and Old Rutlishians, they swung into action in response to the Covid19 crisis, and within days were outside a supermarket organising food donations. The initiative to date has delivered 22,000 one-week food packs to those in poverty, provided 600 computer devices to children for online home learning, delivered furniture to households in desperate need and assisted the homeless, across the boroughs of Merton, Kingston and Wandsworth.

“There have been so many amazing moments,” says Xavier. “But one of the best feelings is making doorstep deliveries to people – they see you there and they know that they haven’t been forgotten.” He’s been blown away by the response from the community, as well as the celebrity supporters it has picked up, including Tim Henman, and England rugby legend Nick Easter – who manned a food hub point.

Its ethos is to be nimble and speedy in its response, and make it as easy as possible for people to help. “It is about making it habit-forming, whether it’s donating food or helping out on a stall. People see us outside a supermarket, contribute something from their shopping and know that it will go to those that need it. It doesn’t matter what people give – a food donation, a couple of hours a week… what the crisis has done is to wake up a volunteering ethos and that seems to be permanent. We’ve been asking volunteers if they can still help, even though they are going back to work, and the vast majority have said yes.”

“We’re also seeing people we have helped come back to help us, including a man who was homeless for 30 years,” Xavier adds. Dons Local Action Group is hoping more people will volunteer. “We’re here for the long term to help tackle issues in the community. We have 1,450 volunteers and so many skills available. We’d love to have more as we go forward – we have five areas we are looking to tackle: food poverty, the environment such as clearing up parks, mentoring and coaching, sport, and community requests.”

What was set up as an urgent response to the crisis has grown beyond anything that was initially envisaged, showing just how effective community power can be.

To volunteer, contact them on: To donate a laptop or tablet up to eight years old: