How you can make a difference this Christmas

It’s easy to get swept up in all of the festivities and merriment that Christmas brings. But when it comes down to it, and excuse the cliche,  this inevitable consumerist indulgence is actually very far removed from what the festive period should be about. There are thousands of people in the UK alone for whom Christmas is a particularly difficult time of year. Not only does the drop in temperature bring a range of  issues for rough sleepers, but the focus on family can leave those without feeling lonely and desperate. Luckily there are a range of charities, organisations and initiatives that have been started over the years in order to help make the festive period that little bit better for those in need. So if you’re looking for a more fulfilling way to spend your time and pennies this Christmas, then consider the following ideas.

Lily Cannon

Support your local food bank: Illness, disability, family breakdown or the loss of a job can happen to anyone, and this can often leave people  stuck in poverty. Food banks are a way to provide people with a source of emergency food so that those struggling will not be left hungry. The Tussle Trust provides a network of food banks across the UK. They work with organisations, volunteers and communities to ensure that donations from the public reach those who are most in need. There are a few different ways that you can support your local food bank, and you can find your nearest one by entering your postcode onto the website. Firstly donating food, secondly donating money, and thirdly donating your time. Take a look at the Tussle Trust website for more information

Volunteer at a soup kitchen: Soup kitchens are places where those in need can come for a hot meal, shelter, and a chat. While the main purpose of soup kitchens is often seen to be to providing a hot meal, they also provide clothing, toiletries and invaluable emotional support. Cooking, donations and hosting are just a couple of ways that you can get involved.

Donate a coat: Wrap Up London enters its 9th year this year as the initiative encourages you to donate your unwanted coats to be redistributed to those in need. The coats are circulated to local charities and community groups who offer support to people who are homeless, refugees, older people, people fleeing domestic violence, and those living in poverty. But the impact of this organisation and your donations will go even further than just helping keep people warm. When a person at risk makes contact with a charity to collect a coat they will also get the opportunity to accept ongoing support from the organisation that will benefit them in the long-term.

Buy a present that gives back:  Of course, it is very difficult to escape the expectation that you need to buy presents for loved ones and friends at Christmas. So one way to give back  is to purchase a gift that has a charitable organisation attached to it. That way you can stay safe in the knowledge that your present will still be doing some good. Here are some examples of whats on the market:

Choose Love is the world’s first store where you can buy real gifts for refugees. The store contains practical items like tents, nappies and sleeping bags and every item in the store represents a similar product or service in one of the 120 projects the organisation support around the world. The items that you can buy are sorted into 3 collections: arrival, shelter and future, so that you can support refugees through each stage of their journey

Save the Children: This year the children’s charity has hand selected a variety of beautiful hand selected, ethical and sustainable products from independent producers, that can be purchased in order to raise money for the charity.

Unicef: choose from either a gift that you buy on behalf of someone else e.g. pencils for school children, a life saving vaccine pack, story books for children or a vaccine pack, or choose a gift from their online shop (all of the proceeds from which go to the charity)

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