If you’re thinking about donating time, food or money this Christmas, these are a few of the charities in need this festive season.
As Christmas approaches and the weather gets colder, difficult times become even harder for many vulnerable and homeless people across the UK and beyond.
If you’re able to volunteer your time or donate money or food, there are numerous organisations who would appreciate your support.
From grass-roots projects providing food for refugees to food banks that supply essentials to many, these are just a few of the charities that are looking for help this festive season. If you can't volunteer, remember that you can donate instead.
Food bank use is sadly at record levels in the UK, with the Trussell Trust reporting a rise in distribution of food parcels this year: 823,145 emergency food parcels were handed out from April 2019 to September 2019, which is a 23% increase on the same period last year.
The Trussell Trust’s volunteers run a network of more than 1,200 foodbanks around the country offering food parcels, vouchers and essential support to those in need.
You can help them to raise awareness of poverty and stop UK hunger as a food-bank volunteer, by donating food, by fundraising, or simply by making a one-off or regular gift.
Crisis has been working side-by-side with homeless people in the UK for decades to help them rebuild their lives through education, training and support with housing, employment and health.
With the average life expectancy of a homeless person just 44 years and rough sleepers almost 17 times more likely to be victims of violence, its work has never been more essential.
Around the Christmas period it runs Christmas Day Centres in donated spaces in Edinburgh, London, Oxford, Birmingham, Newcastle, South Wales and Coventry where it provides shelter, food, entertainment and more. You can sign-up to volunteer your time, or contribute a much-needed specialist skill such as healthcare or hairdressing.
It costs just £28.87 to reserve a place at a centre for a homeless person this Christmas. If you’re looking to fundraise, their website has a range of suggestions and resources on everything from organising a bake off to hosting a film night – or get sponsored to join one of its mid-winter swims.
Through a network of local projects, FoodCycle is working to reduce the UK’s unnecessary food waste and get nutritious food to those who need it.
It currently saves one tonne of surplus food each week and uses it to cater 1,400 weekly community meals across the country for anyone who is hungry or lonely.
From food collectors to cooks, it's looking for a host of volunteers. If you have more time, you could start a hub in your area as a project leader or work as a food co-ordinator securing surplus food from retailers.
Reengage (formerly Contact the Elderly) is a UK charity solely dedicated to tackling loneliness and social isolation among older people, running monthly Sunday tea parties in volunteer hosts’ homes.
Food isn’t the primary focus, instead it works to provide companionship, support at weekends when few other services are available and is something to look forward to.
In the last year it has supported nearly 7,000 lonely older people. You can get involved as a driver, host or co-ordinator, fundraiser and photographer.
Refugee Community Kitchen has been serving hot, nourishing meals to displaced people in the UK and France since December 2015. The Calais Jungle may be gone, but thousands of refugees including unaccompanied children are still living on the streets, stuck in increasingly appalling conditions.
Unable to stand by and watch, a few individuals set up distribution points in Calais, Northern France and London which provide meals and outreach. To date they’ve cooked more than 2 million meals and supported nearly 45,000 people.
Always looking for more help, you can volunteer to sort stock, drive, prepare food, cook, clean and fundraise. Donations of any amount are also welcome.
Finding local opportunities
Other places to look for local opportunities include do-it.org or your local council, who may know of organisations needing help.
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