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First published by the SLRA June 2016

jo cox

TRIBUTE TO JO COX | Join the Centenary Refugee Rally


TRIBUTE TO JO COX | Join the Centenary Refugee Rally

Featuring keynote speaker Lord Alf Dubs, child refugee campaigner and himself a wartime refugee.

When: 6:30pm, Friday 24 June
Where: Rushmere Pond, Wimbledon Common

jo cox**In light of the tragic news of the death of Jo Cox MP we have decided to hold our centenary rally as a tribute to Jo Cox. **


Just over 100 years ago, on 17 October 1914, hundreds of residents attended a meeting on Wimbledon Common called by the Wimbledon and Merton Refugee Fund.

Its purpose was to help Belgian refugees fleeing their country at the start of World War 1.

Without passionate campaigners like Jo Cox,

Come and show how much Merton residents still care about refugees 100 years on from the original rally!


Alf Dubs
Just over 100 years ago a meeting was called on Wimbledon Common by the Wimbledon and Merton Refugee Fund to organise support for Belgian refugees fleeing from German invasion. As a result 473 refugees were offered support and accommodation in the borough.
100 years later we want to repeat this rally in order to call for support for refugees today. We have invited Lord Dubs to address us. He was a child refugee himself whose life was saved by the Kindertransport initiative. He will be able to tell us about his amendment that will compel our government to accept unaccompanied children.
Bring picnic, a blanket and your friends and neighbours


The weather forecast is good for tomorrow but there is a chance that the ground might be wet. Please can you bring plastic bags, camping chairs, blankets etc to sit on. We only have a small platform so we will need people to sit.
It would be great if someone could bring a camping chair for Lord Dubs to sit on as he is coming by public transport (and maybe even a flask of tea for him?) – Any volunteers?
If you have offered to act as a steward could you turn up from 5pm to help us set up. It would be great if you could bring clipboard and pens. I will bring some high vis vest.
We are looking for a couple of people to help us carry speakers from the car at around 5pm. Please let me know if you can help. if there are a few of us it will be a quick job.
Please feel free to bring pictures, flowers tributes etc  to place in front of the platform or wave in the air but we will have to ask you to take them back with you as we have no place to leave them permanently.
If you are from an organisation that would like to ask us to something to build Jo’s legacy please contact me ASAP so we can arrange to get your request shared. It would be good to get them added to the list of things people can pledge to do.
Children and young people are especially welcome so please do bring them along if you can.
Finally, almost exactly 100 years ago Merton residents stood up up against xenophobia to reach out the hand of friendship to refugees fleeing their homes. In the memory of Jo Cox let’s do that again tomorrow. Let’s make our rally a massive demonstration of love and solidarity with Jo Cox and her remarkable family and build her a legacy we can be proud of.

Who we are – PRESS RELEASE

Merton Residents Welcome Refugees

In September 2015, as the refugee crisis across Europe was intensifying, local residents Jackie Schneider and John Merriman observed a desperate need to connect local people’s compassion, with needs locally, in Calais, and across the world.

Within 5 days, they contacted (via social media, the local press and word of mouth) almost 100 residents to begin a conversation with Merton Council and various refugee organisations already at work locally.

people inside

During the open meeting, many residents spoke up displaying their passionate desire to get involved, and as a result, an ever-growing online database has been set up, where residents can offer their time, skills or finances.

We are intentionally not set up as a trust or charity, since there are fantastic organisations already at work who we are forming strong relationships with across the borough, and further afield.

Our aim is primarily to provide a warm welcome to refugees, who by no fault of their own, have ended up in our wonderful borough.11990583_1497027390609234_791854126514579245_n_edited




Thank you!

Safely arrived at Merton Council’s storage room, our donations of toiletries for refugees.

Thank you to the schools, churches and individuals who collected toothbrushes, cleaning products and sanitary products. They are now safely stored and ready for distribution.


Thank you to for the responses to the various requests on our Facebook page. For example, this delivery was only possible because someone volunteered their car to make the delivery. To see the latest requests for help – please visit the Merton Welcomes Refugees Facebook page.


English Tutoring Training

A practical way to make a huge difference

Can you give a couple of hours a week? Merton Home Tutoring Service was set up six years ago, and now has about 40 trained volunteers. We provide English language tuition in the homes of adults in the London Borough of Merton for whom English is an additional language and for whom it is difficult to attend formal classes.

People learn the English they need immediately. They usually want to communicate better with teachers, doctors, health visitors and others. They may want social English, so they can chat to neighbours or make new friends. They may want to gain confidence after a period at home; aim for employment; a qualification; or to play a part in local activities with English speaking people.  Clearly, English is the key to participation in these things and to

We will be running a tutor training course in November 2016, and we would like to have volunteers from a wide range of backgrounds who speak English fluently. Our training will take place at The Wimbledon Guild for Social Welfare. The course is for 19 hours spread over several weeks (Thursday evenings and Saturdays during the day). If you would like to volunteer we ask that you can commit to giving one hour a week for teaching and at least one hour for preparation, for at least six months following the training.

It will give you as a volunteer a chance to get to know about other people living in Merton and their ways of doing things. You will learn a lot about the English language.  You will join a group doing the same thing, meeting up regularly. It is fun and very worthwhile. If you have any questions about the programme, please get in touch with me, Sophie Johnstone at or on 07580 765118.  Our website is


Oyster Cards

Locals providing Oyster Cards for refugees

You can now buy an oyster card and put some money on it. We know that asylum seekers and refugees live on very small amounts of money and they struggle with cost of transport transport. We have been told stories of people unable to attend medical appointments or being forced to walk miles to attend meetings with officials. South London Refugee Association will distribute the cards for us.

You can either pop the oyster card in the post to South London Refugee Association Merton, Vestry Hall, London Road, Mitcham CR4 3UD or drop it into Londis, 34 Crown Lane, Morden (opposite civic centre). Anil and Rashpal Patel, in Londis, are happy to collect them for us. Please stick a post-it note on the card telling us how much money is on it.

Thank you!


Cross Party Statement

Cross party statement on the refugee crisis from the Leader of the Council at the London Borough of Merton to the council meeting on Wednesday 09 September 2015

Mr Mayor

I would like to make a cross party statement as Leader of the Council on behalf of all the party leaders and all councillors. I know that I have the support of the whole chamber for this statement.

You would need to have a heart of stone not to be moved by the scenes that we have witnessed recently across Europe.  Men, women, children and whole families in desperate plight are being uprooted from their homes by war and turmoil. The horror of the situation has been brought home to us all by tragic pictures beamed throughout the world of poor Aylan Kurdi, the little boy whose body was washed up on a beach.

We have all been contacted by residents keen to provide whatever help they can. Merton Council, which has been working with refugees for many years, is helping to co-ordinate these efforts. We have been speaking with Merton’s faith communities and voluntary sector agencies and they are working with us to assist.

Merton is on standby and ready to help. We will take our fair allocation of refugees by working with London Councils. The recent announcement by the Government has indicated that financial support and additional powers are to be made available to councils. We welcome that and look forward to receiving more detailed information in the coming days.

Merton has a proud tradition of helping those in need.  With the support of all sides of the chamber we must, can and will fulfil the trust our residents place in us to do the right thing in a time of crisis.

Thank you Mr Mayor