We all know that Christmas is an expensive time of year for any family but it’s also a time to think of others who are less fortunate than ourselves.
As is proven with any of the large-scale fund-raising campaigns such as Comic Relief and Children in Need, the British public are an extremely generous bunch, with fund-raising records being broken time after time. As Christmas approaches, here are some of the things that you can get involved in to help out someone who might often be forgotten at this time of year:
Check in With Your Neighbours
Do you have someone living close by that is on their own? This is always a really difficult time of year for the older generation. They’re less likely to want to venture outside because of the cold and the fear of slipping on icy pavements, so popping in to see if they need any groceries picking up could really make their day. They may have prescriptions awaiting collection or a Doctor’s appointment to get to – helping them out could literally be life-saving for them. Just popping in to see them and chatting for a couple of minutes could brighten up their day, so if you’ve got a few minutes to spare…
Helping the Homeless
There is definitely no good time to be homeless but winter brings with it a whole new realm of fear and dread. Imagine what it would be like to be stuck out in the freezing temperatures and drenching rain, nothing to eat and nowhere safe to sleep – and every day is the same.
There are lots of ways that you can help charities for the homeless throughout the year such as donating cash, donating your unwanted items to their shops, volunteering at their shops, offices and soup kitchens but as winter approaches, there are usually additional things that you can do to help.
Check out the internet and local publications for any requests for coats and jackets in your area. It certainly doesn’t fix the problem but providing a warm coat for someone who spends all their time in the cold, will be gratefully received. For people in London, TfL usually set up coat donation sites at various tube stations so you can either drop off your unwanted coats or volunteer some of your time at the drop-off points.
We are constantly advised not to give money to people who appear to be homeless; apart from the obvious fear that they may use the money to buy drinks or drugs, not everyone you see with a cardboard sign and a paper cup are homeless – they actually make a living from begging. But for someone who is homeless and is sitting on the street cold and hungry, buying them a sandwich or a cup of coffee will definitely make their day.
And even if you do nothing else, a smile and a kind word may well just brighten up the day of someone who spends most of their day being ignored.
Gifts for Those Who Are Usually Forgotten
Charities such as The Salvation Army run a gift appeal for children, families, older people and the homeless who are often forgotten at Christmas. You simply need to drop off your gifts at a participating Salvation Army Centre – the gifts are then wrapped and distributed to those in need. If you want to spread the love even further, The Samaritan’s run a programme called Operation Christmas Child every year, which invites you to prepare a shoebox filled with small gifts for children. These are then distributed to children of all ages, all over the world. Last year, they collected a mind-blowing 11,485,662 gift boxes.
It’s really easy to think that if you take part in any of the above suggestions, you won’t make much of a difference on your own, but for someone who has much less than you in terms of money or support, it will make a huge difference. But if you want to make an even bigger difference, why not encourage your friends, family, work colleagues, gym buddies, book club members, quiz team, neighbours, local pub, absolutely whoever you like, to get involved too.