Group of girls from the Ashdon Jazz Academy with founder Patricia Muirhead

Wimbledon Community Fund reopens applications as previous recipients see National Lottery success and TV appearance

The Wimbledon Foundation has reopened applications for their community fund, which supports projects helping disadvantaged groups across Merton.

The foundation is the official charity of the All England Lawn Tennis Club and the championships and it offers grants of up to £10,000 to projects.

Fiona Spargo-Mabbs OBE set up the Daniel Spargo-Mabbs Foundation, one of the previous recipients of the fund, after her son died at the age of 16 from taking ecstasy.

She explained: “Our aim is to empower young people to use the force of peer pressure for good. 

“We believe that no young person should have to make a decision about drugs without being armed with all of the necessary information”.

The project started in Croydon, but funding from the Wimbledon Foundation has enabled them to expand their work to schools in south west London.

Spargo-Mabbs said that their school ambassador programme is particularly important.

She added: “Talking to young people is the most valuable thing we do.”

The foundation has just announced that they will receive National Lottery funding to run educational workshops.

They are also being given a government research grant and will be working with a behavioural psychologist to evaluate and develop their programmes.

Spargo-Mabbs added: “If you’ve got funding from a reputable body like the Wimbledon Foundation, it adds credibility and encourages others to support you.”

To be considered for a grant, projects must help with mental health and wellbeing, provide access to learning and employment training, help vulnerable people through advocacy and advice, or encourage participation in the community.

Engagement and Events Manager Rachel Swithinbank said that the Wimbledon Foundation welcomes applications from small organisations who they have not previously funded.

Another past recipient of the fund is the Ashdon Jazz Academy, which Patricia Muirhead founded in memory of her daughter who took her own life at the age of 14.

They run a mentoring programme supporting young women through issues including mental health and eating disorders.

Two weeks ago, Muirhead was nominated for The One Show’s ‘one big thank you’ and appeared on the show after being surprised by BBC Radio 1’s Clara Amfo.

She said: “Funding from the Wimbledon Foundation was really helpful. Our volunteers take the girls out for the day, and we reimburse them for the costs.

“Where these meetings have to be held in open spaces, the fund has also given the young people some lovely experiences, from going to exhibitions to cat cafes.”

While the fund helped to get the project off the ground, they are now struggling to cover their costs and on the search for more funding.

Muirhead’s recent TV appearance has led to more people reaching out to use their services, but financial support is dwindling.

She said: “The volume of calls I’ve received just goes to show how much of a need there is for our charity.

“The issue is that we are stretched for funding. It’s very competitive, sadly.”

The Ashdon Jazz Academy are currently fundraising to cover the costs of their mentoring and drop-in services, to donate, visit the GoFundMe page.

Projects in Wimbledon and across Merton have until Monday to apply for the Wimbledon Community Fund.

The link to the application can be found here.

Featured image credit: Ashdon Jazz Academy

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