December can be a financially hard month for many. Here, we’ve found 7 ways you can give a little (or a lot) to help those less fortunate before Christmas Day.
The majority of 2017 has been a bit bleak and disastrous. From Trump being elected as the 45th American President to Brexit, it certainly won’t be a year remembered for its great historic triumphs. But that doesn’t mean it needs to end the same way as it began, especially since we’ve now entered the season of goodwill.
During the month of December, we’re usually so busy running around picking presents for people and secretly hoping for a few things in return, that in truth we may not stop to think of others less fortunate than ourselves.
But with 14 million people currently living in poverty across Britain and an estimated one million UK families struggling to pay the bills this Christmas, sharing just a little will mean a lot.
This year, many charities are asking for your help, which is why we’ve compiled a list of easy and simple ways to give back before Christmas Day. Read on to find out how you can contribute.
1. Donate to your local food bank
With reports of food banks facing their biggest demands yet, an expected record number of families across the UK will be receiving their Christmas meal from one this December. With this in mind, The Trussell Trust – a poverty charity – are asking for your help.
“For many, this Christmas will not be a time for celebration. Every year we see a spike in demand but this year foodbanks are expecting their busiest Christmas yet. Foodbanks will be working hard to provide not only those regular essentials, like pasta and cereal, but also little extras that offer hope at a time when people need it the most. The stories are as inspiring as they are heart-breaking - one mum told us that she was relieved, as her daughter’s first Christmas was taken care of with help from the foodbank,” says Mark Ward, Interim Chief Executive of The Trussell Trust.
“Last December, the public’s generosity meant foodbanks could help thousands of people across the country. But when the festive season is over there will still be people in our communities unable to afford food. Foodbanks rely on donations, which is why we’re asking the public to show that same generosity again, not only this December but in the months that follow Christmas too.”
The Trussell Trust relies on voluntary donations – from money, food and your time. You can find out where your nearest food bank is here. And for more information on what’s best to give, you can see the charity’s list here.
2. Have a chat with an elderly person over the phone
The charity found 1.4 million elderly people felt that Christmas Day just ‘passes them by’ and is therefore calling on people to help them tackle loneliness this year.
“Chronic loneliness is not only horrible to experience day in, day out, it can also have a devastating impact on an older person’s mental and physical health. That’s why at Age UK we are committed to being here year round for older people, to help tackle the loneliness that is blighting far too many lives,” explains Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK.
Christmas is an especially magical time of year for children.
Which is why the NSPCC – a UK-based children’s charity – has created a novel way to donate this winter. By making a small donation you can pick a personalised letter from Santa to be sent to a special child in your life. With eight stories and illustrations to choose from, the letter will safely make its way through the post before Christmas Day.
From helping to buy paints for an abused child to draw and express their feelings, to covering the cost of volunteers answering calls to Childline, a few pounds really does go a long way.
The charity suggests a donation of £5, and you can donate here.
4. Send out Christmas cards that donate to charities
If you’re being eco-friendly this year and handing out your Christmas cards rather than posting them, then there’s still plenty of time to do so.
Cards bought directly from charities usually donate around 60-70% of profits. But high street shops aren’t always so generous, so be aware and read the small print on packs of cards before buying them on your lunch break.
5. Take part in Christmas Jumper Day
On Friday 15 December, it’s officially Christmas Jumper Day. So why not revel in the festive spirit by opting to wear one while donating to charity?
Since 2012, Save The Children – a children’s charity – has been getting everyone and anyone to wear their tackiest jumper to help children across the UK. Whether in a group or on your own, all you have to do is sign up via their website and then after collecting in your donations (£1 per person) you can send it off to the charity to ensure children everywhere have a great Christmas.
6. Volunteer your time
From helping out a local soup kitchen to providing some much needed light relief, multiple charities would welcome help from you in person.
If volunteering at a soup kitchen would suit you then you can find a local opportunity near you through Streets Kitchen. Or if you’re looking for more hands-on opportunities, such as sorting bedding, dishing out food or having a general chit-chat with people in need, then you can get in contact with Crisis. If you decide it’s for you then you’ll need to sign-up for a one-day training session first.
7. Donate to charity while you do your last-minute online shopping
If you’ve left Christmas shopping to the last-minute then why not be extra charitable and give someone a gift straight from charity? From Oxfam to Save The Children and Barnados, plenty of charities have an array of wonderful gift options that’ll suit many a person in your life.
You can also sign up to Give As You Live, an online fundraising platform, that allows you to shop at over 4,000 online stores while raising money for charity. Each shop pays a percentage of your total purchase price in commission, and 50% is then donated to charity.
Whatever you decide to do this winter, take a moment to think of others less fortunate than yourself.
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