Volunteering at Christmas
Christmas parties, presents and over-indulgence... it's easy to get wrapped up in our own little world when the festive season's upon us. But for many, this is the time to think of helping others. If you're considering volunteering this Christmas there are lots of ways to get involved. Here's our round-up.
Helping the homeless
This is perhaps the first volunteering activity that springs to mind at this time of year. Many homeless hostels run all year round, but others are set up to cater for homeless people over the Christmas period, so they need extra volunteers to help greet guests, give out clothing and toiletries, look after luggage stores, keep fire watch and perform cleaning and kitchen duties.
Many charities provide extra services, such as hairdressing, life skills lessons, music shows and medical services, so volunteers can put these skills to use if they have them. If you don't have these skills, you'll still be needed. Crisis opens several Christmas shelters and stresses that the most important aspect of volunteering is chatting with the guests and making them feel welcome.
Here are a few opportunities to help the homeless from Do-it's volunteering database:
- Crisis Learning and Skills Volunteers in London
- Knit for the Homeless in Manchester
- Volunteer hosts in Bristol
Selling Christmas merchandise
Christmas cards and gifts are great sources of income for charities, but they usually need extra help selling them. You can volunteer some hours at your local charity shop, on a temporary card shop or stall, or offer to sell the cards to friends and family.
Collecting for Christmas
'Tis the season for goodwill to all men, so it should be a good time to shake a tin at passers by. Contact your favourite charity and offer to help with Christmas collections – you generally only need to spare a few hours and there are no necessary skills to take part – just enthusiasm for the cause!
Some charities recruiting through Do-it include Macmillan Cancer Support and Marie Curie Cancer Care.
Manning a helpline
Christmas can be a particularly distressing time for people who don't have family or friends to be with, people with mental health problems or those who don't have a stable home life. Helplines such as Samaritans and ChildLine can be a real lifeline to these people, but they require lots of volunteers to keep them running. Most involve a training programme before you start manning the phones, so it's worth getting in contact as early as possible.
Other ways to volunteer at Christmas
Want to do something a bit wackier? Check out this lot for some ideas, or go to our advanced search and type 'Christmas' into the keyword box to see what's needed in your area.
- Marshal a Santa run in Cambridge.
- Collect presents for families going through difficult times in Newcastle.
- Coordinate carol singing in Norwich, in aid of Christian Aid.
- Host an international student in Liverpool.