7 ways you can support your community this festive season
By Charles Smith
It’s the season for giving. While wrapping presents for your family and friends is probably on your mind at this time of the year, you may also want to give back to your local community. There are lots of ways you can support others over the festive season.
1. Shop at local, independent businesses
If you still have some Christmas shopping to do, why not try visiting your local, independent shops? Supporting small businesses in your area can help create a thriving high street and a sense of community.
As well as visiting shops, keep an eye out for local craft fairs and other pop-up events. You could discover some unique items or handcrafted gifts that your family and friends will really love.
2. Donate to your local food bank
Food banks provide much-needed food parcels to local families. They can ensure families can make a healthy meal, as well as providing other household essentials.
The cost of living crisis means more families are relying on food banks. According to the Trussell Trust, more than 1.3 million food parcels were distributed via its networks between April and September 2022 – an increase of 52% when compared to 2019.
So, picking up a few extra items when you’re doing your weekly shopping can really support those most in need. Supermarkets often have donation drop-off points in store to make it simple.
Many food banks also need volunteers to sort and distribute donations. So, if you can, donating your time can be just as valuable.
3. Make a charitable donation
Giving a monetary gift to a charity or organisation that’s close to your heart at Christmas can help ensure they’re able to continue the good work they do into 2023. There are countless charities, so if you don’t already have one in mind, try searching for one working in your local community.
If you’re a taxpayer, don’t forget to confirm that the charity can claim Gift Aid. It means the charity can claim an extra 25p for every £1 you donate. Each year, Gift Aid means millions of pounds extra go towards supporting charitable causes.
4. Fundraise for a good cause
As well as giving a donation, planning a fundraising event can help you give a charity a much-needed financial boost by encouraging others to get involved too.
From a winter fair packed with classic games like tombola to a festive bake-off at work, fundraising can be a fun way to bring people together while supporting a charity.
Your efforts don’t have to be festive-themed either. If your new year resolution is to run a half marathon this year, you could set a goal to raise money at the same time.
5. Check in on vulnerable neighbours
During the colder months, checking on vulnerable neighbours can help ensure they get help if they need it. Simply popping in during the festive period, especially if you know they’ll be alone, can be hugely beneficial.
If you want to be part of a network that supports the elderly in your community, Age UK is a good place to start. The organisation connects volunteers with people that need support. You could help by picking up your neighbour’s weekly shop. Or there’s a service to combat loneliness by arranging for someone to call older people living alone.
6. Visit your local blood bank
There are lots of ways you can support your local health services, such as making a charitable donation or gifting toys for children that will be spending Christmas on a ward. One option you may have overlooked is giving blood.
The UK needs almost 400 donors a day to meet demand. Giving blood can save lives and provide a chance for people in an emergency or who need long-term treatment.
You can find out where your local blood bank is and more about giving blood at: blood.co.uk
7. Clear out your old items
The festive period is a great time to clear out your old items and donate them to someone that needs them.
From winter clothing to children’s toys, charity shops and shelters that provide a home for vulnerable people can often make use of items you don’t need. However, check with the organisation what they need first, as they can become inundated with donations during this time of the year.