make a difference

It’s the season of giving – and not just presents. Health journalist Carole Beck finds out how you can volunteer your time and skills and make a difference over the festive period.

Looking to make your Christmas break even more special? Giving up your time to help others could be the answer. Volunteering and giving back doesn’t just make a difference to your community, it’s good for your health too – boosting your self-esteem and sense of happiness, according to a 2018 study by Hong Kong’s City University.

Luckily, you don’t need lots of free time either. Here’s how you can support others this Christmas, no matter how busy you are.

Give 2 minutes…

Finishing up your Christmas shopping? Add ‘Smile’ in front of Amazon’s website address and the brand will donate 0.5% of the net purchase to a charity of your choice, without any extra cost to you. Win win!

Give 5 minutes…

In just a few minutes, you can make a difference and help a child discover the joy of reading. Simply donate £10 to BookTrust’s Letterbox Club, and they’ll send out a surprise festive book parcel to a vulnerable child in the UK, put forward by their local authority or school. For some children, it might be the first book they’ve ever owned.

Give 10 minutes…

Food banks in the Trussell Trust network have already packed their Christmas boxes, but there’s always an alarming drop in food donations after the festive period. Have a look in your cupboards for non-perishable tinned or dried foods, like pasta and breakfast cereal – and then put them aside for the charity. Find out which items your local food bank needs, or sign up to sort and pack food in 2019.

Give 15 minutes…

Squeeze in a quick online Ocado shop, and you can donate to UNICEF at the same time. Simply link your Vitality account to Ocado, and when you place your first shopping order, a day’s worth of food will be sent to a malnourished child in east or southern Africa via UNICEF. Learn more about this partnership.

Give a few hours…

If you want to cut down on food waste, try volunteering for FoodCycle. The charity collects surplus food that would have otherwise gone to waste from supermarkets and small food shops, and turns it into delicious vegetarian meals for people in social isolation. Operating across England, volunteers are needed over the Christmas period to pick up food, join the kitchen team, or host guests.

Give a morning…

You don’t have to like running to volunteer at parkrun. With an amazing sense of community and fun, it’s a guaranteed mood booster. Supporting one of the hundreds of free, weekly 5k runs around the UK includes setting up before the event, scanning bar codes, handing out finish tokens and marshalling the runs by guiding runners around the course. Want to run too? Not a problem – choose a parkrun volunteer role that lets you do just that. Just don’t forget your Santa hat!

Give a few days…

Join thousands of volunteers using their time and skills to help homeless people have a happier Christmas. Crisis this Christmas – an annual campaign run by the homeless charity Crisis – expects to host more than 4,000 people who live rough at their 15 centres across the UK. Each guest receives three hot meals a day plus a shower and, for some, a bed to sleep in. By volunteering, you’ll also help them access essential services, from a hair cut to appointments with doctors, opticians and dentists.

Give time each week…

Able to give a spare hour each week to make a difference – and not just for Christmas? You can support an elderly person living in your community, and even make a new friend. Through Age UK’s befriending service volunteers are matched with older people who need a friendly face. Your job is to call them regularly for phone chats or visit them for tea and a chat. Over time, you could build a long-lasting relationship – one that really will make a difference.

Feeling inspired? Here are 8 small acts of kindness we can all do.

Articles you might like

Leave a Reply