If you’re thinking about donating time, food or money this Christmas, these are a few of the charities in need over the festive season.
As Christmas approaches, the weather gets colder and the cost of living crisis deepens, difficult times become even harder for many vulnerable and homeless people across the UK. There are ways you can help, with numerous organisations looking for volunteers or calling for donations of cash, food and other goods.
From a food bank to a charity supporting lonely elderly people, these are just a few of the charities that are looking for help this festive season.
In the past year, approximately 2.17 million people used a food bank in the UK. The Trussell Trust gave out 2.1 million food parcels (of which 832,000 went to children) – a 14% increase on the previous year.
The charity supports more than 1,200 UK food banks, which offer food parcels and assistance to those who have been referred.
You can help stop UK hunger by volunteering your time, fundraising, donating food supplies and goods or by making one-off or regular donations.
Crisis has been working side-by-side with homeless people in the UK for more than 50 years, helping them to rebuild their lives through education, training and support with housing, employment and health.
With the average life expectancy of a homeless person just 45 years and rough sleepers almost 17 times more likely to be victims of violence, the charity's work has never been more essential.
This Christmas, Crisis is looking to secure temporary accommodation where people without homes can keep safe with access to advice, healthcare, food, clothes and activities. It costs just £29.07 to reserve a place for a homeless person this Christmas. Your donation will also help fund year-round support including training and education.
You can also apply to volunteer during the festive season – this involves serving hot food, offering companionship and participating in activities over dates in December and January.
Through a network of local projects, FoodCycle works to reduce the UK’s unnecessary food waste and get nutritious meals to those who need them. It rescues surplus produce from retailers and uses it to cater dinners for hungry and lonely people at their projects across the country.
From food collectors and cooks to phone volunteers, the charity is looking for people who can give their time. You could also become a project leader or work as a food co-ordinator securing food from large organisations.
Re-engage (formerly Contact the Elderly) is a charity solely dedicated to tackling loneliness and social isolation among older people. In the UK there are more than two million people over the age of 75 who live alone. The charity runs monthly Sunday tea parties in volunteer hosts’ homes, and also offers a call companion service.
More than 8,300 older people took part in Re-engage's services in the past year, supported by almost 11,000 volunteers. You can help out by donating money or volunteering to be a call companion.
Christmas is one of the toughest times for animal charities as many four-legged friends given as Christmas gifts end up abandoned or taken to a shelter. This year, there's already been a 24% increase in reports of abandonment, with the cost of living crisis causing owners to struggle to care for their pets. Despite rising fuel and energy costs, the RSPCA is committed to keeping its rescue teams on the road this Christmas – and to leaving no animal outside in the cold.
You can help by donating money to the RSPCA's Christmas Rescue, or by buying an RSPCA Christmas card, calendar, diary or gift wrap.
Finding local opportunities
Other places to look for local opportunities include do-it.org and your local council, which may know of organisations needing help.
Lead image: The Trussell Trust/Facebook
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