Gift yourself and others a feel-good Christmas this year by helping those less fortunate. From volunteering at home to providing lifesaving vaccines, shelter, food and more for the world's most vulnerable, here's your how-to guide to helping the needy this festive season – and all year long.
"Giving has the power to heal and it has the magic ability to spread from one person to another."
Help at home
For the hundreds of thousands of elderly in the UK who will spend Christmas alone this year, help them look forward to the upcoming holiday. Community Christmas offers companionship to 75s and overs with the help of volunteers like you. Whether that means helping out by hosting a Christmas lunch, driving a neighbour to an event or just popping around for a chat, there are many ways to bring comfort and joy to an elderly person near you. Call 0800 063 928 or visit communitychristmas.org.uk to get involved.
Crisis at Christmas is a national charity for the homeless that seeks volunteers with a range of skills to help lift spirits as they do the vital work of tackling housing, hunger, unemployment, loneliness, and more. Volunteers assist in cooking, cutting hair, teaching classes from political literacy to music or fundraising in their "bucket brigade". You can choose to volunteer or simply donate to this worthy cause.
Change the lives of young homeless, sofa surfers and those at-risk by gifting a dinner through the Centrepoint charity for £5, a gift for £10, a toiletry set for £15 or a bed for the night at £35. These items not only provide the taken-for-granted luxury of things like shelter and a shower - they also help to combat the debilitating plague of despair.
Help Around The World
Play your part in the fight against poverty for millions around the world with Oxfam. Shop their store or help to raise the standard of living for someonewith a health check for £6, school supplies for £8, a pile of manure (for fertilising crops) for £9, clean water for £22, honeybees £12 for or even a goat for £25.
UNICEF's mission is to protect the world's most vulnerable children. Support the cause with a handmade gift from their site, made by those in vulnerable communities. You can find everything from chess sets to unique necklaces. Or personalise an "inspired" gift such as clean water, vaccines against polio, tetanus, or measles from £11; other lifelines include paying for a midwife to deliver a baby safely for £29.50, and providing warm winter clothes for a displaced Syrian child for £35.
Can't Afford To Donate?
Save lives with your own blood. The UK blood bank needs over 6,000 daily donations to keep up with the demands of hospitals caring for patients in crisis. Type O-Positive is most common and can generally be given safely to most recipients so is especially useful. Simply register online and then make an appointment, which should take no more than an hour.
Make Your Donation Go Further
Important note: UK taxpayers who make online donations can pay with Gift Aid, which allows charities to reclaim the tax. All the charity needs is your name, address, and a declaration that you're a taxpayer (this can be done via form or the phone) and the charity will then receive an extra 25p for every £1 donated.
Giving has the power to heal and it has the magic ability to spread kindness from one person to another. Start the chain today and inspire others to do the same. Struggling for a gift for that person who has everything? This Christmas, consider donating on their behalf to one of the charities listed here for a unique gift.