Despite having a pretty shit year – losing my Grandma, losing my job, some health scares and family also having a crap time, I love Christmas and Christmas always puts me in the best of moods. However, Christmas isn’t great for everyone. There is pressure on families to spend money they might not have, people who are alone, who cant find their families, people who are homeless or have other issues which make this time of year especially hard when others are full of joy.
Huge charities always put various campaigns out to raise money for people who may be in these situations over Christmas, but I am sure if you do some digging, there are plenty of local grassroots organisations, charities or even individuals who work unpaid from the kindness of their hearts to improve the lives of others.
Here are just some of the ones local to me in Leicester – have a search around to find similar ones near you.
As well as helping the homeless of Leicester with temporary and crisis accommodation, Action Homeless run the food bank in Malcolm Arcade. The universal credit roll out in Leicester means those who were already struggling have been hit particularly hard and the food bank provides provisions to those who need it. With your donations they can help those people have some treats over Christmas. If you can’t donate items, you can donate your time and also register to assist with sorting donations too.
Help The Homeless are a grassroot charity who help the homeless in Leicester and beyond. They do a weekly feed and donation drop at the market where people can come and get a meal and select donations they might need such as clothing, bedding, toileteries etc. They have also recently accquired the lease to a shop so they can raise funds for the work they do. To date, they have managed to get several rough sleepers off the streets and into accommodation by providing support with costs and also the complex needs they may have. They need people to help them prep the shop, volunteer or even if you’re having a pre-Christmas clear out, they would be extremely grateful for any donations they could sell in the shop to allow them to contine to do the excellent work they do. They are also making up shoeboxes and gift bags with essentials to gift the homeless at the weekly meet.
TLCC provide families in need with clothing and household items they may need. It’s run by a very small group of volunteers who spend hours running over the county to collect and donate items to those in need, they also run events designed to reduce waste, such as toy shops and workshops to repair items. With Christmas coming up, they are aware of families who will be struggling this Christmas so any donations you have would be gratefully received. Contact their page and see what they are in need of.
One Roof are another local homeless charity who run a winter night shelter in the coldest months of the year, from mid-December to mid-March, in partnership with multi-faith groups and denominations who offer either a venue or hot meal to service users on rotation. To faciliate this, you can either donate to this great cause, or you can volunteer your time, they need people who can help serve dinner or breakfast, set out beds and bedding daily, collect users from a collection point to the venue, night volunteers and many other roles.
Just because the refugee crisis isn’t making the kind of headlines it was a year or two ago, doesn’t mean it’s gone away. LE Solidarity are a local organisation to collect aid to be sent to various places in Europe and beyond to places like Syria. At the moment, they are focusing on provide aid to France where thousands of refugees are still living on the streets in unsanitary and freezing conditions. They regularly update their page as to what they are collecting and also often require volunteers to give them a hand in their warehouse to load vans and sort through donations.
Baby Basics is small charity who aim to help Mums and Families who might feel the financial burden of a new arrival. They provide essentials like pushchairs, baby equipment, clothes and toileteries for new babies and they work on a referral basis by people like Health Visitors, Midwives, Doctors etc. Parents can asked to be referred by these professionals. They keep a list up on their website of what they might need. A recent donation drive has meant they have stopped collecting items until after Christmas, but if you have anything you can hold on to until then, or even offer a cash donation, this can help them fill the gaps in donations.
Hopefully, this has given you some ideas of projects to assist, it’s not always about giving material items, time (though I know extremely precious in our busy lives) is just as valuable. As I said before, these are all local to me, but if you know of similar projects to you, let me know and I will share them throughout December on my Instagram stories and Twitter.