This year we saw, and continue to see, the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
As the spirit of giving slowly sweeps across the nation, our thoughts turn towards those who are struggling without the luxury of friends, family and financial security.
If you're looking for ways to help others this year, there are plenty of ways to give - even with restrictions in place.
Here's a few ways you can support a stranger in need this Christmas.
Donate £19 and provide a struggling family with food and gifts
This year, the Salvation Army is running a special Christmas appeal so they can help those who are facing poverty because they have lost their jobs and livelihoods due to the pandemic.
They are supporting people by giving Christmas food parcels to families who are struggling to afford a proper Christmas lunch and distributing modest toys to children whose parents are unable to afford presents.
By donating just £19 you could provide a family in need with a box filled with food and modest gifts for their children.
On the website, the charity has shared a quote from Sophie, a mother of a family on a very low income.
Sophie said: "We had nothing to give the children on Christmas Day until you arrived with your parcel of food and toys. I’ll never forget the kids’ squeals of delight when they opened their presents."
For more information and to donate, visit the Salvation Army website.
Volunteer as a telephone friend for a lonely elderly person
Before the outbreak of coronavirus, we were already facing a loneliness epidemic among older people. But because as a result of the pandemic, this crisis has intensified.
Age UK is working hard to relieve the isolation and despair felt by so many, but this Christmas could be the loneliest yet for the older people most in need.
The charity offers free telephone friendship services so those in need can have regular communication with others and if you can spare 30 minutes per week, you could volunteer as a telephone befriender.
On their website, the charity writes: "Lots of people tell us the chats are the highlight of their week."
Here's how it works:
- Sign up and start your volunteer application online. This involves completing references, online training, passing an ID check, and having an interview with our team.
- You will be matched with a suitable older person based on your interests.
- Age UK will then connect you with your telephone friend to begin your weekly calls.
Click here to sign up.
Support those suffering with their mental health
This Christmas we’re in a mental health emergency after a year of anxiety and uncertainty and charities like MIND are fighting to provide people with the support that could save lives.
They have already gone above and beyond by expanding their services so they can help everyone throughout the pandemic and have so far:
- Received over 1.7 million visits to their coronavirus information hub.
- Responded to over 35,000 calls, emails, texts, and chats.
- Received 130,000 visits to Our Frontline, psychological support for frontline workers.
On the MIND website, the charity has shared a quote from Lauren, who said: "I've struggled so much with my mental health during the pandemic and I know I'm not alone."
You can help people like Lauren and support MIND this Christmas by sending some of their beautifully designed Christmas cards. Shop the collection here.
Help the homeless
Homeless charity Centrepoint is appealing to make this Christmas the turning point in a young, homeless person's life.
The current homelessness crisis is one of the worst in the charity's 50-year history and 23,000 young lives are at risk.
On the 15th of December, the charity will be hosting the ultimate pub quiz. Hosted by comedian Russel Kane, by purchasing a ticket (for only £10) you’ll be helping Centrepoint improve the lives of young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness during this difficult time.
What’s more, is that by purchasing a ticket you’ll even get the chance to chat with Russel himself and win a selection of amazing prizes.
Sign up for the ultimate pub Christmas quiz here.
Gift a refuge parcel
Refuge is a charity that provides women and children escaping domestic violence a safe place to stay. Since COVID-19 began, their services have seen an increase in demand.
Every day, women escaping life-threatening situations seek refuge and many arrive with little more than the clothes they are wearing. For just £10, you can buy a family an 'emergency parcel' containing toiletries, food, nappies, children's clothing and a change of clothes for mum.
For more information and to gift an emergency refuge parcel, click here.
Dress up for Elf Day
Alzheimer’s Society is asking people across the country to dress up as an Elf, whether it be at home, work, or school, and raise money for those suffering from dementia.
There are many ways to get involved with Elf Day and volunteers can choose an activity with their free festive fundraising guide before setting a date and time and downloading a variety of decorations and games for the big day.
You can pay in your donations on their website here.