Five ways to look out for the vulnerable this Christmas
It’s easy to forget during the festive season – as we tear into impenetrable presents, don our woolliest, gaudiest Christmas jumper and over-stuff ourselves with turkey and all the trimmings – that for many, the holiday is a time of hunger, cold and suffering. But there are plenty of ways to help those in need and give a gift that will mean so much more than a pair of novelty socks. Here are some of the best causes this Christmas.
Help fight homelessness with the Crisis appeal
No one deserves to be on the street at any time of year, but there’s no worse time to be homeless than at Christmas. In today’s cashless society, it’s becoming more difficult to know how to help: we rarely carry change, and often there is a fear that our money could go towards feeding bad habits rather than truly supporting the vulnerable. Crisis’s Christmas appeal is the perfect way to give and know exactly where your donation is going. You can provide a bed for the night for £28.87, or you can reserve as many places as you want, either anonymously or otherwise. If you don’t have the funds but you do have some spare time, you can also volunteer a variety of services and skills, from catering to good listening.
Send a special delivery to children in need courtesy of Unicef and Freedom from Torture
Christmas should be a time of excitement for children, but for many in war-ravaged and oppressed countries, there is no chance to celebrate. This is why Unicef have teamed up with the nation’s favourite bear to send Paddington’s Parcels to children in need. Pick up to five presents to wrap up in your package – these range from a football, a hat and scarf and high energy biscuits to a measles vaccine or “school in a box” – and add a card for a special personal touch. Then simply click to send off your parcel and make a kid’s Christmas that little bit cheerier.
Freedom from Torture have created a similar service for families and children living in the UK who have escaped torture, for whom Christmas could be a hugely traumatic time. You can help bring a little light to the life of someone who has lost or been separated from their loved ones.
Put an end to UK poverty with the Trussel Trust
4.5 million children are living in poverty in the UK. It’s a terrifying statistic in itself, so we can barely imagine how terrifying it must be for parents who are living it, existing on the brink of destitution. The Trussel Trust’s Christmas appeal will help stock up food banks for families over the festive season, but more than that: donations will go towards helping the charity provide advice and support for those in crisis. Their aim is to reach a future where food banks are no longer necessary, but as ever, compassion is crucial. Christmas is a time for giving, so make like Scrooge and show those in need that we, as a society, still care.
Give the gift of community aid with Oxfam Unwrapped and British Red Cross
If you are still looking for presents for the person who has everything, why not make the world a little brighter on their behalf. Oxfam Unwrapped is a gift initiative which allows you and your loved one to contribute towards beating poverty. Simply choose a gift card from a range of great sustainable causes – including helping to cultivate farmland, building a life-changing loo and bringing safe water to a community – and instead of burdening your friend with a pointless present that they don’t need, you can sew the seeds for a more prosperous future across the world. For short-term relief to help those in immediate danger, donating to the British Red Cross’s Christmas appeal is a great way to send quick supplies to people in crisis.
Save lives over the phone by supporting the Samaritans
Christmas is a trying time for those who are victims of loneliness, depression or any form of mental illness. And those on their own would have to suffer in silence were it not for the Samaritans. This charity provides 24-hour support for people going through dark times, with volunteers at the end of the phone line to talk callers through their worries and let them know that someone is always there to listen. By donating to the Samaritan’s Christmas appeal you could save the lives of those contemplating suicide, and with just £12 you can train a volunteer for three months so that they can provide that crucial support into the future.
Image: Brigitte Tohm