Merton celebrates Wimbledon with event for Ukrainian refugees

Ukrainian families getting into the Wimbledon spirit

Merton Council was delighted to join with The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC) and local charity Polish Family Association (PFA) to hold a pre-Championship tea on Thursday 23 June ahead of next week’s Wimbledon tournament. 

Ukrainian refugees who came to the UK on both the Homes for Ukraine (HfU) and Friends & Family (F&F) schemes, as well as local hosts and volunteers working in the borough and council staff, were invited to the New Horizon Centre in Pollards Hill to celebrate this year’s event. 

Merton staff and PFA volunteers handed out some of the 650 Wimbledon tickets which the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) generously donated to refugees and host families in the borough, and Wimbledon and Ukraine-themed food was served.  

Merton Council has already received more than 200 refugees on HfU and a similar number through F&F and used the occasion to say a big welcome to our new residents and also to thank people from across the borough who have been invaluable in helping the refugee effort. 

Cllr Eleanor Stringer, Deputy Leader of Merton Council and Cabinet Member for Civic Pride, said: “We’re delighted to be able to put on this event and share some of the excitement of the Wimbledon Championships with our Ukrainian guests. 

Guests joined in proceedings at the New Horizon Centre in Pollards Hill

“I’ve been so proud of the outpouring of support and goodwill from our borough’s residents: from those who opened their houses to host refugees, to those volunteering at the Merton Hub or working with Polish Family Association, through to people donating money to help the effort. 

“We’d also like to recognise the generosity of AELTC and the Wimbledon Foundation for the gift of these tickets and their donation of funds to Polish Family Association, who have been indispensable in their efforts working with refugees both in the UK and in Poland.” 

Sally Bolton OBE, Chief Executive of the All England Club, said: “I’m delighted that Ukrainian refugees hosted across Merton and Wandsworth will be joining us for play on Middle Sunday at Wimbledon.  

“We hope this will be a great day for the local community, with thousands of tickets also distributed to our COVID heroes from the NHS and social care, local residents, schools, charities and community groups.” 

Paige Murphy, Head of the Wimbledon Foundation, said: “As the charity of an international sporting event, it is important to us that we are supporting people not just in our own local communities but also internationally, particularly in times of crisis.  

“Having previously supported Polish Family Association’s work with East European & Polish communities in Merton and Wandsworth, we were aware of their incredible response to the situation and wanted to support their efforts in caring for those forced to flee their homes in Ukraine.”