A New Community Trust

Dons Trust Board member Nicole Hammond also chairs the Communities Working Group, which leads on the Trust’s ambition to operate AFC Wimbledon as a “genuine community club”. Nicole explains recent developments in our approach, which aims to actively engage and support all our local communities.

This article originally featured in the Bristol Rovers matchday programme on 23 October.
The Communities Working Group, which has evolved from the Survey Working Group, has met a number of times over the summer, grappling with the question of exactly who and what our communities are, and what efforts and resources we should be putting into each.

Discussions so far have centred on the setting up of a charitable trust to run our Community Football Scheme, and whether this new trust should also handle the other community activities we carry out which are not directly football-related.

At the recent Dons Trust SGM, Erik Samuelson outlined the reasons why the club has decided to set up a new trust to carry out our Community Football Scheme – the main one being that there is a considerable sum of money available from the Football League, but on the condition that it is paid to a charity associated with the club, not the football club itself. The charity can spend the money within four broadly defined areas: education; sports participation; health; and social inclusion. In addition, having a charitable status will make it easier to attract donations as well as corporate sponsorship.

Clive Yelf, who is a member of the CWG, gave examples of the kind of non-football-related activities that he has been coordinating to date, working with schools and other organisations carrying out activities which fit into the areas defined above, and explained why he feels it is a good idea for this new trust to take on the community-related aims on behalf of the Dons Trust. It was observed that the community aspect of the Dons Trust has suffered from a lack of attention, while other aims have taken a priority, out of necessity.

In effect, the Dons Trust would be sub-contracting the community aims to this new trust to ensure that they are carried out. Precedents for this have been set by other football clubs with strong community links, and the working group is researching these.

I put a few questions to the meeting to get some direction on the group’s current thinking. The meeting was in favour of setting up the new trust, and to allow it to carry out the Dons Trust’s community aims. One aspect of setting up a charity is to define its geographic boundary, and one definition that the group has proposed is “Merton, Kingston, and the adjoining boroughs / counties” (effectively, south west London). The meeting was happy with this definition. Clive also pointed out that the community activities work best when driven by people bringing in their own projects – anyone with an idea they would like to progress is welcome to get in touch.

No decisions were made or votes taken at the meeting and it is proposed that the working group devises a motion on the subject at the AGM in December. In the meantime, the group continues to meet and is open to new members and new thinking – if you would like to be involved, or if you have something to say on the current direction, please get in touch with me at nicole.hammond@thedonstrust.org, or by post to the club address.