• Volunteering not only helps others but has also been shown to improve your own mental health and self-confidence

  • Here are seven ways you can volunteer this Christmas season

As we approach the festive period, the idea of volunteering might on your mind more than ever. Of course, Christmas involves spending a lot of time and money making it the best yet for your loved ones but on the way home from the city you might feel a surge of guilt as you pass by those less fortunate. You’re not alone in the feeling of wanting to give back to others but you just might not know where to start.Volunteering over the Christmas period is a lovely way to spread happiness and there is actually no end to the ways you can give back this year. 

According to research conducted by the Royal Voluntary Service, more than a million people will spend Christmas Day volunteering. You don’t need extra skills all you need is your time and kindness! With International Volunteers Day on Thursday 5th December 2019, Forest Healthcare have created a list of seven ways you can give back this year!

1) Serve meals at a shelter

A great way to volunteer in a team is by volunteering in homeless shelters during meal service hours. This is ideal if you are wishing to directly give back to the community especially if they have a shelter near your home or work. Also this can easily fit around your schedule as you can choose either breakfast, lunch or dinner. Christmas time in shelters also tend to be much busier than usual so staff will really appreciate your efforts in volunteering. 

2) Sleep out

Many young people will be forced to spend nights out on the streets – including Christmas Day. Youth homelessness charity Centrepoint will be hosting the annual Sleep Out which prompts people to experience how the homeless feel whilst cold on the streets. This raises money to prevent young people being alone on Christmas day and instead having a safe place to stay. 

3) London Basket Brigade

Take part in the London Basket Brigade this year – on December 23rd you can be a part of the lovely team who will fill up hampers with food and household goods and deliver to families who need support and care this Christmas. Spaces do fill up fast, but you can still register via the online auction to take part. 

4) Organise a festive street sale

If you are savvy in business, then you should consider organising a festive street sale for your community with the proceeds going to a local charity. Christmas is a time for buying gifts so you can even help out your neighbours and make their Christmas shopping list less expensive - an item that has lost value to you might mean the world to someone else. This is also a great way to lift community spirits. 

5) Visit a retirement home

Recent research for Age UK has highlighted that nearly a million older people feel lonelier at Christmas than at any other time of the year. Many retirement homes are filled with older people who don’t have a family anymore so Christmas can be a very lonely time for them. Some residents are keen to conversate and make connections with people who are willing to listen. Giving your time away to spend time with older people can make a huge difference to their attitude this Christmas and you can even learn some wise words of wisdom yourself! 

6) Donate presents

Many Salvation Army churches across the UK will be running a Christmas Present Appeal in which you can donate new, unwrapped toys and gifts for children who might not receive any Christmas presents at all this year. The charity believes that every child deserves a new gift at Christmas, so they don’t accept any secondhand gift offerings. You can make a real difference to a child’s life and put a big smile on their faces. 

7) Food banks

Most food banks offer many different ways you can volunteer and get involved. It can be something as simple as working in the warehouse sorting out donations to working as the face as the food bank. You can also make teas and meals for visitors whilst showing them you care. Christmas can make those who need help vulnerable and scared so friendly faces can make a world of difference. 

Further reading

Why volunteering is good for you

Green Gyms: wellbeing through outdoor conservation

Helping the homeless at Christmas