The season of giving

As the Christmas preparations are fully in swing and the Christmas shopping comes to an end, remember that there are those less fortunate than some of us that really need an extra hand at Christmas. Christmas is the season of giving, why not make it so that your giving goes beyond family and friends and into the wider community? Here’s a few ways you can help out those who really need it this Christmas.

More than a Christmas dinner – Centrepoint

Christmas dinner is the centre of Christmas in my family and thought of someone going without makes my heart sink in my chest. For £10 you can give the gift of a Christmas dinner to a vulnerable homeless to person to share with others in their hostel. I love the idea of this a stocking filler instead of the usual ‘grow your own boyfriend’ I inevitably end up with every year! (Centrepoint have a whole host of Christmas gifts you can buy and donate, check them out here.)

Food banks

Last year, 1,182,954 emergency food parcels we sent out by The Trussell Trust to people in crisis. Food banks often provide more than just food to people in crisis, they provide a listening ear and a chance to sit round a cuppa and offload. There are numerous ways to help food banks, you can donate non-perishable food items, organise a food drive and donate money to cover admin costs. If you want to give a charitable donation as a gift this Christmas, lots of food banks offer the option to buy food vouchers which can be redeemed at a food bank. You can also volunteer to collect and organise any donations. To find you nearest food bank and see how you can help, click here.

Help out at a homeless centre

Homeless charity, Crisis, is looking out for volunteers to cover the Christmas period. You don’t need to have any experience as a volunteer but Crisis are looking out for trained chefs, counsellors and hair stylists as well as volunteers to just help out at their shelters across the country. To apply and find out more information have a look here.

The homeless period

This is an issue which was increasingly reported about in 2017. Alongside issues such as the ‘Tampon Tax’, sanitary products for homeless women and girls is something that has been overlooked in past years. Homeless shelters are given a budget to provide some healthcare products such as condoms but there is yet to be a budget for sanitary ware . Food banks and homeless shelters don’t just accept donations of food, sanitary products are also very welcome and much needed. To find out how you can help and where to donate, check out #thehomelessperiod.

Befriend an older person

I am a penpal to a older person, a scheme which is run through the university. You may be able to find similar schemes yourself run at your respective university but if not, Age UK run a ‘telephone befriends’ scheme. The scheme is run all year round but loneliness can be particularly prevalent during the festivities. Volunteers need only dedicate 30 minutes of their time a week and your calls and telephone number will be kept confidential. This is a scheme that I hold particularly close to my heart and I can’t state how rewarding something like this is for your elderly friend and you. Find out more here.

Women’s refuge

Sadly, two women a week are killed as a result of domestic abuse by their partner. This means there are children facing Christmas this year without their mum. Refuge provide safe havens for mothers and children where they are able to stay for as long as they need in order to build a new life away from their abuse. As well as providing refuges, Refuge are proactive in providing support and outreach in the wider community. To get involved and donate, visit here.

The animal shelter

Sadly, Christmas is a time when plenty of unwanted gifts end up in the animal shelter. I am a huge advocate of the ‘adopt don’t shop’ movement anyway, so if you are considering getting a pet as a Christmas present please make your local animal shelter your first port of call! If not and you are still an animal lover, search for your local animal shelter online to find out what specific donations they need and how to help out over the Christmas period.

At the time of posting this, the temperature in the UK has hit -12 overnight and the whole country in covered in a blanket of snow. It’s really hit home over how terrible it must be to be living on the streets, in a cold house or by yourself whilst the rest of the country enjoy the white stuff. From the bottom of my heart, I hope these few charities have inspired a few of you to branch out and help out this Christmas, even if it’s just buying a charity Christmas card or buying the homeless man outside your work a cup of coffee to warm him out. Make sure this Christmas that you do something.

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