Wimbledon College partners in setting up Merton Citizens

Wimbledon College presenting at Merton Citizens launch
Wimbledon College presenting at Merton Citizens launch

The London Borough of Merton is the latest new chapter of the Citizens UK movement, in which Jesuits have been very involved around the country in recent years.

The Jesuits have long associations with the borough, with two schools (Wimbeldon College and Donhead), a Jesuit community and Jesuit Missions all based in Wimbledon.  The former Jesuit parish of the Sacred Heart is a founder member of Merton Citizens, along with churches of other denominations around the borough.

At the Merton Citizens launch event last month Merton councillors from all major parties pledged to support these goals which Merton Citizens will be campaigning for

• affordable housing in Merton,
• a welcome for refugees
• cleaner streets
• better mental health support for young people

Boys from Wimbledon College made a presentation to the Merton Citizens founding assembly in front of over 300 local citizens and with the leaders of local political parties, the Chair of the Clinical Commissioning Group and the Chair and Director of the local NHS Mental Health Care Trust.

The boys have been taking part in a “Healthy Minds” programme to help promote positive mental health. Over the last two years this has involved students’ conferences, a mental health awareness month, fundraising for a local teenage mental health charity, and this year a focus on supporting staff mental health.

Wimbledon College Chaplain James Potter explained, “Our mental health mission, based on a compassionate cura personalis, has taken on an even broader form this year as we have helped to found and develop the agenda for a new Citizens UK group in our own neighbourhood. This has been a profoundly moving and empowering way for our students to listen to the difficulties in the lives of others and be active participants in bringing about change.”

A dedicated group of Wimbledon College students along with students from a local Church of England Academy and other Citizens member groups have worked hard to champion the call for improved mental health services for young people. During a listening campaign held last year they heard many moving stories of young people’s struggles with mental health from across the borough.

James Potter commented “The boys moved the whole room with their stories and gained backing from all the key political decision makers for our proposals for change.”

Next week is Mental Health Awareness Week

14-20 May 2018 is Mental Health Awareness Week, an initiative to encourage discussion about and reduce stigma around mental health issues. The Jesuits in Britain want to take this opportunity to help our readers and listeners to pray, think, learn and talk about life’s uphill struggles, whether they are associated with diagnosed mental health conditions or other circumstances.

Across our online platforms, there are a number of different resources about situations in which people struggle to find peace of mind and heart. Our written and audio content will explore some of the causes, effects and manifestations of anxiety, and look particularly at the dynamic between faith and mental health.

We will be considering ideas, offering prayerful support and sharing experiences. However, please seek professional help if you are concerned about yourself or somebody else.