7 Ways You Can Help British People In Need This Christmas
Bonus: I've included photos of cute dogs in this post.
"I have goods to give!"
* Barnabas is looking for donated goods and clothing to help support its work with the homeless. Items that would be welcomed include socks, sleeping bags, shower gel, toothpaste, biscuits, tinned goods, toys, and shoes.
* All those Christmas gifts you receive that you want to return or throw away? Well, Looking After Our Elderly, a charity based in Edinburgh, is looking for donated prizes for raffles and competitions to help raise money, so why not give it to a good cause instead? Don't live in Edinburgh? Drop off your (good quality) unwanted gifts in a local charity shop on the high street instead!
* There are a number of volunteer opportunities on the website of homelessness charity Emmaus's website, and you can also donate old furniture to help raise money. "By donating the items you no longer need from your home to Emmaus, you're helping to provide a home to someone who needs it," the site states.
"I like dogs!"
* Lots of people will be needing someone to look after their pets over the Christmas period, and for just a short fee per year, you can sign up to Borrow My Doggy and volunteer. Side note: I have signed up to this site and it is indeed a great thing if you wish you had a dog of your own and you stalk other people's dogs in public.
"I have time!"
* From Surrey to Oxford to Essex, the Friends of the Elderly have numerous care centres that need volunteers. They're looking for people to lend a helping hand, but also those who have a talent or skill they can "incorporate into their homes."
* Homeless shelters across the UK are in need of support. They include St Mungo's Broadway, The Connection at St Martin's in London, Chester Aid To The Homeless in Chester, and Herts Young Homeless in Hertfordshire. There are also local shelters across the UK in need of a hand with setting up, cooking, or greeting guests – just type in your postcode here to find out the closet one to you.
"I have skills!"
* Handy with a computer or green-fingered? Age UK is looking for volunteers to help in its shops, or with fundraising, gardening, and even running computer classes. The charity also has befriending schemes (Scrabble game, anyone?) and opportunities to help elderly people with shopping, which would be particularly useful around the busy Christmas shopping time.
* Most homeless shelters are keen for skilled people to offer their services in some way. For example, Crisis UK has Christmas centres open in London, Edinburgh, and Newcastle from 23–30 December, and is looking for a wide range of volunteers to help, including people to help cook and professionals such as hairdressers, medical staff, and therapists.
* Getting a bit bored of going to the gym? Centrepoint centres in London and the northeast are looking for volunteers, including fitness and exercise volunteers. They're also keen for mentors for young people, as well as translators and gardeners.
* There will be many people struggling to manage their debts over the Christmas period. You could consider volunteering for a debt advice service to help those struggling over the holidays and into 2015, such as the Debt Support Trust or the Citizens Advice Bureau, which both perform an important service by providing free advice.
"I can cook!"
* The Food Chain is a London-based charity that prepares and delivers balanced meals, groceries, and Christmas hampers to homes of Londoners with HIV. The East Dulwich kitchen still needs a navigator and the King's Cross kitchen still needs a supervisor, and they're both looking for people to help with Christmas meals.
* The Casserole Club is a brilliant idea: It connects people who like to cook with a neighbour in need of some food. You simply sign up, search for diners in your area, and donate your extra dish of food to someone who could benefit from it.
"I have a phone!"
* If you can't get out to volunteer this Christmas, the Friends of the Elderly have a telephone befriender service supporting isolated elderly people, which would be a lovely thing to do over the Christmas period.
* The Samaritans are in need of volunteers to listen to those who are facing troubles year-round. But they're not the only ones: A number of charities provide support to those suffering from depression. Papyrus focuses on young people, The Calm Zone focuses its efforts on young men, and in Northern Ireland there's Contact. They all have numbers you can either pass on or call yourself if you're worried about someone at this time of year.
"I have money!"
* Thousands of women and children are at risk over the Christmas period, when many try to escape domestic violence or sexual violence. There are a number of charities you can support that work tirelessly to support women in need, such as Women's Aid, while Refuge has teamed up with John Lewis for a "gift list". Alongside a normal shop at John Lewis, you can buy a gift from the gift list for one of the women or children staying at a Refuge safe house this Christmas. On the website, enter list number 609505 to see what gifts are available.
* And finally, it goes without saying, but you can also donate to a local charity or, even better, set up a direct debit for 2015.