According to Stephen Loizou chief executive at the south west London-based charity Jigsaw4u: “We know things are tough right now – people are struggling with their mental health, the cost of living, housing issues and many other things – which is why this space is needed more than ever.”
The Wilson Wellbeing centre is that space. It’s somewhere the east Merton community can go for support, or to get together to learn new skills – boosting their mental and physical health and combating loneliness.
Since the middle of April, a programme of activities has been running Monday to Friday on the Wilson hospital site. They range from gardening, coffee mornings and book clubs, to wellbeing support for those affected by homelessness and advice around domestic abuse.
We want to provide a safe, welcoming and bright space that community groups can use to further the mental and physical wellbeing of local residents.
A recent community event launched the activity programme, with food, music, dance, art classes and the chance to explore.
The Wilson Wellbeing Steering Group, responsible for overseeing the activity programme, has commissioned Jigsaw4u to develop and deliver the support that local people need now.
Says Vivienne Edkins, operations manager at Jigsaw4u: “We want to provide a safe, welcoming and bright space that community groups can use to further the mental and physical wellbeing of local residents. Our well-appointed rooms can be booked for all kinds of sessions, and there is a beautiful community garden. We envision it as space where groups can deliver the support services that are vital.”
Activities take place in an area of Wilson hospital site which was refurbished by the NHS in 2019 and used as a Covid-19 vaccine centre during the pandemic before being handed to Wilson Wellbeing in 2022.
Since then, the site has been brightened up by the Wilson Wellbeing Jigsaw4u team. Using upcycled and donated furniture, five disused hospital rooms have been transformed into light and comfortable meeting places with comfy sofas, plants and plenty of cushions and books.
A central drop-in area is a place for people to have a cup of tea and a chat or check in with staff and volunteers about their welfare. They can also find out about the many organisations in Merton that can help.
Outside, a community garden has the landscaping and raised beds in place, ready to be planted for summer by members of the gardening club, which gives people all the physical and mental health benefits of nurturing plants in the great outdoors.
There is also a food and clothes bank for people who need help, subject to donations.
People are struggling with their mental health, the cost of living, housing issues and many other things, which is why this space is needed more than ever.”
The current programme of accessible drop-in activities includes:
- Helping Hands Merton – a safe and confidential space with advice for anyone experiencing domestic abuse.
- Older people’s drop-in – keep warm and well with a hot drink and good company.
- Space to play – where parents, carers and children under five can get out of the house and meet other families.
- Community coffee mornings.
- Arts and crafts workshop – draw, paint and create works of art to take away or to decorate the wellbeing space.
- Book club – chat about books with other readers or borrow something from the Wilson Wellbeing library.
- Community gardening club – whatever the weather, experience the mindfulness and tranquillity that comes from helping things grow outdoors.
Diana Sterck, chair of the Wilson Wellbeing Steering Group said the group is, “delighted to be working with Jigsaw4u on the development and delivery of wellbeing activities and services and this event is a fantastic start to raise the profile. Their experience and knowledge is of great value to support the needs of all members of the local community.”
Find out more about Wilson Wellbeing activities on the steering group website.
Individuals, groups or organisations with ideas for using the space should email [email protected]