Giving Back

There’s something you could be doing this festive season that’ll mean much more than the latest computer game. We share some charitable ideas that could make someone’s Christmas extra special this year…

Not everyone’s lucky enough to wake up on December 25 to a house full of loved ones and presents pouring out from beneath the tree. Sadly, in times of recession and welfare cuts, Christmas isn’t going to be the joyous celebration for every family this year.

This doesn’t mean you have to feel guilty if you have a cracking Christmas lined up. But if you do feel like you want to help out other people, there are plenty of projects crying out for volunteers and donations this festive season that you could get involved with.

There are lots of organisations that are crying out for support at this time of year. Homeless shelters are a good place to start. In London, homeless charity Crisis’ Christmas Centres provide warmth, good food and companionship for homeless people in the capital over the festive period. The charity’s on the lookout for general volunteers to welcome guests, people with specialist skills like hairdressers and dog handlers, entertainers and much more! Find out more at www.crisis.org.uk.GO LOCAL

Crisis isn’t the only homeless charity that needs help. Look into your nearest shelter to see how you can help. Check out websites like www.do-it.org.uk, or young people can try www.vinspired.com, for ideas of other projects in your area which need support. You could be helping out in a local day centre, hosting crafting sessions with a youth group or acting as a volunteer marshall at a ‘Santa dash’ fun run raising funds for charity!

REACH OUT

You could volunteer your time to organise something special in your community too. A Christmas fete in your local community centre or church hall is a great way to get local people out and about, and you can donate the profits to the charity of your choice, maybe even one that’s helped you. Organise the space, sort out some tables and start recruiting stallholders to sell Christmassy treats, gifts, cards and more. Don’t forget to pester local businesses for raffle prizes!

Check out your nearest supermarket, community centre and charities for Christmas gift appeals. This is a really simple way of giving back – you just buy a gift for a child or fill a shoebox with non-perishable foods to be sent to a family or child, either overseas or here in the UK.

MAKE IT A HABIT

Volunteering doesn’t have to be an annual event. This could be part of a new, exciting area of your life. Lending your time doesn’t just benefit people receiving the project’s services, it’s got a lot to offer volunteers too. It’s an opportunity to meet new people, learn new skills and develop your confidence and people skills – it’ll help your social life, your working life and much more.
So what are you waiting for? Start making enquiries now to see how you can make this festive season one to remember.

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