"We were delighted to give our time to benefit this amazing charity."
Merton’s youngest volunteer celebrates her special day with some very special friends
Like most toddlers, Kiki Conway-Hughes enjoyed being the centre of attention on her second birthday. But the toddler was not surrounded by other children, she was delighted to be tucking into birthday cake with a group of very special people, her friends at Wimbledon Guild, because Kiki is Wimbledon Guild and possibly Merton's youngest volunteer.
This beautiful little girl spends every Friday morning along with her three-year-old brother Jago, and mum, Lisa, at Guild House on Worple Road, Wimbledon for Friendly Friday – where customers can chill out and chat. Lisa explained: “Mainly the kids just play and the clients play with them. They hand out biscuits and tea, but mostly it’s playing. The children look forward to going. They get lots of attention here. They know the people as well as family – many people come regularly.
“The Wimbledon Guild volunteers don’t do anything hard. We come along chat and do the teas and coffees. We play games. It’s your time and attention that's important as much as anything."
Lisa, a chartered financial planner, started to volunteer when, at home on maternity leave after Jago’s birth, feeling a little bored she decided to look for something to do. “I couldn’t be volunteering in a charity shop or something like that because I had Jago with me. This felt like the best of both worlds. It’s a safe environment to take the children and do a short stint a couple of hours.
“Everybody looks forward to seeing Kiki and Jago. Some of them are actually quite lonely in their everyday lives. They don’t necessarily get to see children or mix with them. And it’s good for the children to meet older people, even some in their eighties and 90s.””
Lisa said, “It’s really interesting. Especially when they’re talking to children about their childhoods. They couldn’t be more different. A lot of them come from huge families and had been young during the war. Talking about what the children are doing will stimulate conversation about what their children were doing at this age, about their childhoods.”
The relationship between the children and the older people has built up naturally over time. On the rare occasions when the usual sibling squabbles break out between Jago and Kiki, visitors know the children so well they help calm them down.
“Volunteering might not cross other parents’ minds,” said Lisa. “But it benefits everyone. The Wimbledon Guild helps people with loneliness - it gets people out of the house and it makes it easy for you to get out of the house. Having children there brings a more natural kind of conversation – a more positive conversation. It won’t be about how miserable the weather is – it’s really quite fun.”
Become a Volunteer
Over 320 talented volunteers are currently part of our volunteer team. Our volunteers come from every walk of life and range in age from 16 to over 80 years old. Our team of volunteers help by leading activities in our Social Centre, serving meals in our café, working in our charity shop, and befriending people throughout Merton. Whatever time you can give will make a positive impact to someone’s life. Volunteering with the Wimbledon Guild is a rich and rewarding experience that helps to deliver great services to people.
If you have a few hours to spare, let us know what your interests are and we can find something that’s right for you. Whether you’re retired, work full time, in full or part time education, we have volunteer roles that are flexible and can fit your schedule.