YMCA Wimbledon Redevelopment Begins

On Friday 23rd July, YMCA Wimbledon welcomed local stakeholders to an exciting ground-breaking celebration to mark the beginning of works to redevelop the site.

In December 2020, plans were approved by Merton Council’s Planning Committee, to transform the existing YMCA Wimbledon premises into a new state-of-the-art YMCA building, alongside an adjoining development of 135 new homes and two new commercial units at ground floor.

The redevelopment, led by YMCA St Paul’s Group and their development partner Thornsett, will enable YMCA to continue their work in the borough, which has been ongoing for the past 150 years, and to deliver wider benefits to the community.

Computer Generated Image of the new YMCA Wimbledon

The current building requires urgent modernisation. The scheme will provide 121 hostel rooms with en-suite bathrooms and cooking facilities, to help give residents a better quality of life and support them back into independent living. YMCA residents and the Wimbledon community will also benefit from new and improved, affordable facilities, including a gym, bigger studio space for fitness classes, a children’s area and brand-new YMCA café. The adjoining development residential development is expected to help address an under-provision of homes suitable for first time buyers in the borough.

Image of YMCA prior to redevelopment

Commenting on the commencement of construction, Councillor Eleanor Stringer, Joint Deputy Leader of Merton Council and Cabinet Member for Children and Education:

“I am delighted to be able to mark the start of a new future for the YMCA in the borough. It is exciting to see work begin to provide enhanced accommodation for vulnerable young people locally and to offer facilities that will benefit the whole community, as well as much-needed new homes.”

Richard James, CEO of YMCA St Paul’s Group, added:

“This is an extremely exciting moment for YMCA St Paul’s Group, our residents and the local community, as we break ground on the new YMCA Wimbledon. Our vision is to create places where young people thrive and communities flourish and this new state-of-the-art YMCA building will enable just that. We’re grateful to the local residents, Merton Council, Thornsett, Neilcott and Councillor Stringer for their support of this important development.”

Construction is expected to be complete by 2025. Find out more here.

 

Wimbledon Pie Bake-Off

To celebrate their re-opening and the opening gala performance: Waitress the Musical, New Wimbledon Theatre, are inviting you to enjoy a slice of pie at the judging day of their local pie contest.

Thursday 2nd September on The Piazza (outside Morrison’s): event from 12pm with final judging at 3pm.

Pies will be available for sampling after the final judging.

Businesses in Wimbledon Town Centre and their employees, will be putting their baking skills to the test and competing to find out who can reign supreme!

The contest is centred around protagonist Jenna, of musical comedy Waitress, who creates some wild and wonderful pie creations, such as Marshmallow Mermaid Pie, Pineapple Upside Down Pie and A Little Wild Wild Berry Pie.

Competing for a special gift and tickets to the show, businesses will be judged against categories such as: best looking pie, most inventive ingredients, best themed pie, and lots more.

So head down to The Piazza on Thursday 2nd September from 12pm to join in on the fun, and get your tickets for the show here.

 

About the Show

Meet Jenna, a waitress and expert pie-maker who dreams of some happiness in her life. When a hot new doctor arrives in town, life gets complicated. With the support of her workmates Becky and Dawn, Jenna overcomes the challenges she faces and finds that laughter, love and friendship can provide the perfect recipe for happiness.

 

Polka Theatre Re-opens

Following a major refurbishment, Polka Theatre will begin to re-open from 16th August with a host of free activities for everyone.

 

Polka Theatre, the UK’s first theatre designed specifically for 0-12 year olds, is re-opening its doors with an exciting season of new productions and free activities for the whole family this August. Following its two-and-a-half-year closure, Polka will once again be bringing world class family theatre and creative learning activities to London.

The new state-of-the-art and eco-friendly building now houses two auditoriums: the flexible Adventure Theatre, which is the first purpose-built UK theatre for under 6s, and the fully refurbished Main Theatre, with new seating and decoration. The completely revitalised venue will provide unrivalled facilities for families and schools, including:

  • An indoor play space in the new Y C Chan Play Den
  • A sensory garden
  • A playground with a bespoke treehouse climbing frame
  • A large and airy café
  • A dedicated rehearsal and community space called The Nest
  • A purpose-built, interactive sensory suite designed for use by children with sensory and special educational needs, installed in the new Clore Learning Studio.
  • Improved accessibility has also been greatly, including level access to the stage for performers and children for the first time.

To kick off Polka’s opening season, the theatre have unveiled three brilliant productions that will be performed in the new building from 25 September.

  • RED
    An exciting visual and physical storytelling production with British Sign Language. Journey through forests and swamplands as you help search for RED and missing Queen Sukotai. But watch out for those sleeping wolves!

    Running Sat 25 Sep – Sun 31 Oct, perfect for ages 6+.
  • Cinderella: the AWESOME truth
    Think you know the story of Cinderella? Think again. Cindy and Ella are the REAL ugly sisters and they couldn’t be more different. When they meet a fairy godmother who’s not what she seems it’s up to Ella to save her sister before the clock strikes 12. Join us for a magical topsy-turvy adventure, we’re going to have a ball!
    Running Fri 12 Nov – Sun 30 Jan, for ages 5+
  • The Night before Christmas
    Bringing Christmas Eve to life in this festive production with original music, puppets and Polka magic. Meet 6 year old Amber (who really loves reindeers), her grumpy grandad and a surprise visitor who turns Amber’s world topsy-turvy.
    Running Sat 4 Dec – Sun 16 Jan, perfect for children aged 3 – 7.

In the meantime, until 28th August, the Polka team are setting up shop in Centre Court Shopping Centre with a new pop-up theatre space. Maanika and The Wolf is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, perfect for 3-6 year olds. The pop-up production blends the past and the present, the real and the imagined, as a grandmother returns to her childhood bedroom recalling stories from when she was a young girl. Talking to her granddaughter over Zoom, she brings her Indian dressing-up box back to life and re-enacts her own version of Little Red Riding Hood. But why is there another wolf on the phone and why does her granddaughter Ruby keep trying to change the story?

Polka Theatre will reopen to the public from Monday 16th August and offer a range of free activities for young children, including hands-on creativity in the newly planted Wimbledon Foundation Garden and the multi-sensory space, as well as lively and interactive story sessions. It will also host Polka’s Freefalling group, made up of children who face challenging circumstances at home or at school, a Youth Theatre summer school, and research and development sessions with Polka artists. Continuing to pioneer children’s theatre and creative learning in the UK, Polka aims to use their new building to continue to inspire young audiences, school groups and families in and around the local community and beyond.

For all Polka activities, workshops and shows, visit our What’s On page and filter by ‘kids’.

 

Wimbledon’s First Breathe Café

Do you ever find yourself seeking a place where you can retreat and take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life? Somewhere you can take a deep breath, eat nourishing food and find some support?

Local healthy eating café Lu-Ma have collaborated with mental health charity, Shawmind, to open the first ‘Breathe Café’ in Wimbledon Town Centre.

The concept of a Breathe Café, was created by mental health charity Shawmind, and is a safe space where the public can go and read books in the wellbeing library, connect with a volunteer and find resources to help support them. Breathe Cafés are not clinics or therapy sessions, and volunteers provide signposting and active listening support only – it does not replace the advice of a mental health professional. The idea stems from the notion that early intervention in this way, can help head off more serious mental health challenges in individuals in the future.

Maria Jessiman, co-owner of the family-run café added:

“We look forward to opening a space where people can feel seen, heard and valued without judgement. All our food is created with the purpose to help keep the mind and body in balance. We are proud to be creating a hub in the heart of Wimbledon to help support our community in other ways. We know how much mental health and wellbeing matters, especially after the past year.”

The plant-based healthy food café Lu-Ma, was born out of a desire to provide a hub in the heart of Wimbledon to help support the physical and mental wellbeing of the community. Mental health has always been something close to Maria and her family’s heart. This new initiative adds another dimension to the café which has previously held wellbeing events, meditations and courses, and looks to continue to do more in the future.

You can find a well-being library, resources and a volunteer trained in active listening, all within the café – located at 43 Worple Road, Wimbledon, SW19 4JZ. Simply scan the QR code which is visible throughout the venue. To find out more click here.