Have you wanted to be useful, or contribute to your community at Christmas but not known where to start?
Voluteering at Christmas is nothing new, but often local community Christmas lunch schemes are actually overwhelmed with volunteers. Or charities might prefer if you simply made a financial donation. Whilst that’s still supportive of course, you might want to roll up your sleeves and do something practical. So how to volunteer at Christmas?
Lots of charities work with children, young people, and the homeless to help them have a better Christmas. But as we get older, Christmas can also be a depressing time for lots of people. No one wants to be alone, and no one wants to be out in the cold with no warm meal.
We’ve put together a list of charities, organisations, and ideas to help put a smile on some faces out there this Christmas.
So how can you as an individual help?
1. Donate your old phone
O2 have teamed up with HUBBUB to create Community Calling, a way to donate your old smartphones to someone in need. You post your old phone, it gets data-wiped, delivered to someone without access to the internet, and then O2 provides them with 12 months free data and access to free digital skills training.
With internet access, things like finding a job, finding a local food bank, or being able to contact friends and family is important, and many people don’t have access to this.
Learn how to donate your old phones and where to send them here
2. Get some ethically-made socks
One thing people may not think to donate is socks, but shelters are crying out for them. As many cold homeless people will attest to, a new, clean pair of socks can be the difference between a good and bad day.
For every pair of socks bought from their site, Stand4Socks donates another pair of socks to homeless people. So far, over 150,000 socks have been donated already.
Maybe this year, you could get some ethically-made socks for your loved ones that’ll provide someone on the streets with warm feet!
Buy some stylish socks and support the homeless here
3. Spend time rather than money
Many people tend to think about just giving homeless people money, but human compassion can be huge. To do something different yet kind, maybe get them a hot drink or some warm food, sit with them for a bit, and listen to what they have to their story. Many homeless people have said their loneliness can be overwhelming; why not make a new friend and provide them with company? They spend a lot of time being invisible.
4. Volunteer this year
Nursing homes are full of elderly people who don’t have family to spend time during the holidays and for most of them, it can be get miserable. This year, volunteer at your local nursing home. Get in contact and ask if there’s anything you can do to help.
Your local council can help with finding places that need support. You can also check your local Facebook community groups to find contacts and opportunities.
5. Give a helping hand
Alternatively, if you know of someone spending Christmas alone, like a neighbour, invite them round. It seems like a small thing, but it could make their year.
There may also be vulnerable people in your area who just need a little help this year; it could be as simple as helping them with their shopping or putting the bins out for them.
6. Support food banks
The Trussell Trust has been providing emergency food to people locked in poverty around the UK for years. Their food banks provide emergency food and parcels containing a mixture of necessary things. They ‘advise for people to check their local food bank’s website for what items they are most in need of’.
You can check where your local drop-off points are and what items they are most in need of here
7. Period poverty
Period poverty is a very real thing that some women in our society are battling as result of lack of access to sanitary items.
Every woman should have access to sanitary products, no matter their circumstances, which is why Freedom4Girls are fighting against period poverty in the UK and worldwide.
Help the cause, get involved, and donate here
What help is out there for young people and children?
8. The Children’s Society
The Children’s Society looks out for kids who are threatened by abuse, exploitation, and neglect , they help them to break free from their cycle of abuse and crime and your donations can offer amazing things from finding a homeless child somewhere to live, to help providing counselling.
Donate to the cause here
9. Book Trust
Book Trust is an organisation that helps gift special books to vulnerable children, giving them an escape from their lives and lets them get lost in a world of fiction and fun.
Give a child some escapism here
10. Centre Point
Centre Point focuses on young homeless people, helping them learn life skills to live independently, provide them with a warm and safe space to stay, and more. Young people these days are faced with homelessness frequently and while things are getting back to normal, the effects of the crisis are still active and the outlook for young people is still precarious.
Donate to help a young homeless person here
Things to take away
Be aware of people’s pride
Not everyone feels comfortable asking for help. When offering assistance to someone, try to avoid using patronising terminology. Our advice? Don’t make it a big deal, just ask.
If they say no, don’t be offended. At least they know you’re there for them.
Not everyone is visibly struggling
You might have a couple of friends who say they hate Christmas, or maybe a family member who says they’d rather be alone. This is completely fine if it’s the truth, but we know people don’t always admit to struggling.
Make it your quest this year to just check in and see how some of your friends and loved ones are doing. Christmas can be a depressing time for some, and a conversation may do the world of good.
Are you affected by any of these issues?
Lili works across all the channels; writing articles, taking photographs, creating content, and designing eye-capturing imagery. She’s an animal-lover who cries just seeing a picture of a baby sloth.