It’s fair to say this year has been one of the toughest on record, particularly for the homeless, the elderly and other vulnerable people. Factor in the cold winter weather and the emotional turmoil that comes with Christmas and difficult times can, and often do, get even harder for many across the UK.
If you’re contemplating donating your time, food or money to those most in need this Christmas, there are plenty of ways to give back to a good cause.
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Christmas Day volunteering 2020
Despite the uncertainty around Covid, many charitable organisations have managed to adapt their volunteer strategy over Christmas so that everyone can still get involved.
Opportunities to be out and about helping others via food banks or food donations are still taking place, but if you’re unable to volunteer in that capacity there are plenty of other ways, from becoming a phone friend for an elderly person to taking part in digital fundraising. And of course, donations are always welcome regardless.
How to volunteer on Christmas Day 2020
There are many charities, both big and small, hoping for reliable and friendly volunteers to support them during the festive period. We’ve outlined some below but there are also a wealth of opportunities to be found in your local area via the national volunteering database Do-It.org or via your local council, who may know of organisations who need help.
Read more: Best charity Christmas gifts for 2020
Where can I volunteer on Christmas Day?
Here are the organisations seeking your support over the festive period.
The Trussell Trust
The use of food banks in the UK is at a record high, and The Trussell Trust network supports more than 1,200 of them across the country. This year they’ll be particularly busy, with an estimated 846,000 parcels given to people in crisis since October 2020 to the end of the year. There are a variety of volunteer positions available on their website, including helping in their warehouses or at their emergency food bank centres. And if you’re short on time to volunteer physically, you can make a regular or one-off donation.
For decades, Crisis has supported homeless people by helping them to rebuild their lives through education, training and support with housing, employment and health. Their special festive season support, Crisis at Christmas, has been running since 1967, providing homeless people with hot meals, a safe place to sleep, company, and the support and advice they need to get back on their feet.
Volunteers are certainly needed in parts of the UK, though there is a focus on more specialised volunteers this year, and there are fewer general positions available. Check their website for further information. If there are not opportunities in your area, there is always the option of a donation. It costs just £28.22 to reserve a place for a homeless person in secure temporary accommodation, where they’ll have access to advice, healthcare, food, clothes and activities for the festive period.
Though communal dining has been put on pause due to coronavirus, FoodCycle – who work to reduce unnecessary food waste – still need volunteers to help give out food parcels and to call guests for weekly catch-ups. There are also opportunities to be food collectors, cooks or, if you have even more time, opportunities to become project leaders or work as food co-ordinators, securing food from large organisations. Whichever option you plump for, you’ll be helping to get nutritious meals to those who need them most.
Volunteering as a call companion is one of the most rewarding ways to give back to others, and that’s exactly what you can do in support of Re-Engage, formerly known as Contact the Elderly. There are a staggering 1.4 million older people suffering from loneliness, which has only been worsened by the pandemic. As a call companion, you’ll make regular telephone calls to lonely and isolated older people, getting to know them, sharing stories, offering support and providing a lifeline of friendship. There are also opportunities to be a coordinator or a volunteer interviewer on the Re-Engage website.
The Alzheimer’s Society
The Alzheimer’s Society have adapted their Christmas fundraising brilliantly this year, offering a clever range of ways for people to raise money. Essentially all of the options are done digitally, whether its broadcasting carols live from your living room or testing your knowledge with a virtual quiz. Their free festive fundraising guide is packed with easy, achievable things to do, including virtual film nights or Secret Santa parties. Lots of fun to be had here, while fundraising money for a fantastic cause.
Royal Voluntary Service
Focused on supporting those who’ll be spending Christmas in hospital – many of whom are on their own or far away from family – the Royal Voluntary Service has lots of ways that you can help. Volunteers are needed to work in local communities, to deliver essential supplies, library books and activity packs, and to provide companionship support, home from hospital services and patient transport. If you’re happy to help from the comfort of home, there’s also a Virtual Village Hall, which promotes wellbeing and keeps people active during the pandemic, and requires volunteers to help in those digital activities.