How To Give Back This Christmas
2020 has been a catastrophic year, but there have been positives. In the face of adversity, we’ve pulled together as communities – and the importance of giving to others has been highlighted. So, as the Christmas countdown begins, we’ve pulled together a list of charitable initiatives that need extra support this year. From food bank donations to volunteering to help vulnerable people, here are some ways you can give back this Christmas.
If you’re in a position where you can donate money, countless charities are in need of extra financial support as a result of the pandemic. Below we highlight some of them, but the list is by no means exhaustive.
- Coronavirus has evidently had a drastic impact on older people – not just physically, but mentally. “Many older people are enduring increased and sometimes devastating levels of anxiety, in part because they know they are at serious risk from the virus – an invisible deadly enemy,” says Age UK.
- GOSH (the charity linked to Great Ormond Street Hospital) has launched the Christmas Appeal 2020 to help get children in hospital home to their families for Christmas. Donations will also go towards making the hospital feel like a home from home for those who are, very sadly, too ill to do so.
- Women’s Aid have reported an increase in domestic violence since the start of the pandemic, while Refuge has launched a Christmas appeal for women and children.
- According to Macmillan Cancer Support, an estimated 50,000 in the UK have undiagnosed cancer as a result of COVID-19. The charity has launched a Christmas appeal to support those both awaiting diagnosis and currently going through treatment. Marie Curie and Cancer Research have similar appeals.
- Tens of thousands of people have been made homeless since the start of the pandemic, which means charities like Shelter and Crisis are overwhelmed.
Donate food and gifts
Numerous charities are also running Christmas gift campaigns this year. Many Salvation Army churches and centres across the UK are calling for toy and gift donations for those who might not otherwise receive a present as part of the Christmas Present Appeal. Family Action, meanwhile – a charity which supports families facing difficulties such as living with the after-effects of domestic abuse – aims to give presents to up to 10,500 children this Christmas as part of its annual toy appeal.
Another sector which has been hit hard by the coronavirus crisis is food banks. This year has put immense pressure on them as a result of increased unemployment and less volunteers. According to research, UK food banks are giving out six emergency food parcels a minute at the moment – a 61 per cent increase on last year. You can help by making a food donation to your local food bank: The Trussell Trust have sites dotted around the country – find your nearest one here.
And if your house is filled with books, why not give some to those who don’t have any? The Children’s Book Project is a charity that distributes new and gently used books to children and their families across London. There are drop-off points across London.
Give your time
Volunteering is another way to help overwhelmed food banks. The Trussell Trust shares opportunities here, while FareShare is always looking for people to help with fundraising, engagement, admin and driving.
You can also volunteer from home. Spare half an hour a week, for instance, to chat to an older, vulnerable person with Age UK’s telephone friendship project. Places like Shout and Mind, meanwhile, run crisis text services to help people struggling with their mental health. Anyone interested should be aware that these roles often require a fair amount of training.
Buy from small businesses
Confined to our neighbourhoods, we’ve come to love our local businesses more than ever this year – but it’s still a really difficult time for small-scale retailers. Unlike big companies, they can’t benefit from the Black Friday sales boom, and many are struggling to stay afloat. So: when buying this Christmas, shop independent. Visit virtual markets and online charity stores to find unique, one-off gifts, buy books from independent bookshops instead of Amazon, and get your turkey from a local farm shop instead of the supermarket.
Buy charitable gifts
Invest in gifts with a conscience this year. There are so many lovely ones out there, such as the new cookbook from Tilda, which is donating all proceeds to The Felix Project, the London charity fighting hunger. Other ideas include this Give a Little Love Cotton Tote Bag from John Lewis, with funds going towards FareShare and Home-Start, and this candle by Advent of Change.
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