Festive work parties are kicking off, ambitious present wish lists are being swapped and someone in your household as we speak is loudly crying their way through Love Actually. The countdown to Christmas is in full swing.
It’s all fun and games for many of us right now, but for some, for a multitude of reasons, it’s not the most wonderful time of the year. More people than ever before are turning to food banks, while more than 22,000 young people could be homeless in England this Christmas.
“I know”, you tell me miserably, “but between work dos and weekend plans my festive calendar is full to the brim!” I hear you, I do. December in particular is always a hectic one. But what if I told you you could do something good for society by dedicating as little as an hour of your time?
If, like me, you’re feeling like you can and want to do more, then now is as good a time as any to get involved. Here are a few opportunities that have caught my eye:
Wrap Christmas presents in shopping centres
What: A bunch of charities (I’ve added a small handful of links below) across the city are looking for volunteers to wrap presents for customers in shopping centres. You can offer your time for as little as an hour or take on several shifts, it’s totally up to you. Enjoy getting Christmassy with some lovely people while raising funds for some great causes, though be prepared to find sellotape on your clothes for days afterwards.
When: Various dates/shift times between 28th November and Christmas Eve
Help behind the scenes at a Camden concert
What: Lend a hand to make the Christmas Soul Concert Event at Camden’s famous Electric Ballroom a night to remember. From stewarding to social media to sound production; you can do your bit to help in the fight against cancer and bring support to those suffering from it. You might even run into Heather Small…
When: The main event is on Sunday 15th December but there are also plenty of ways to help out in the build-up to the event too
Hold a bucket at a station
What: Shake up your normal busy commute by stopping to shake a bucket instead (in optional festive attire). I for one am looking forward to showing off my bootleg, Frozen-themed Christmas jumper to the masses. You can do one short shift or more, and while I’ve added a couple of links below, there are dozens of charities doing things like this at multiple stations, so do a bit of research to find the opportunity that works for you.
When: All throughout December
Deliver homemade Christmas baskets
What: If you’re free on Monday 23rd December, why not spend the day delivering hampers to those in need, joining The Basket Brigade’s mission to feed families who struggle to put food on the table. It’s just one day and will make a huge difference to hundreds of people. Bonus points if you have a car to contribute to the effort too. Put some cringey Christmas tunes on and sing your way through a memorable road trip.
When: Monday 23rd December
Help out at Brixton’s Gospel Christmas event
What: Christian Aid London are after volunteers to look after guests and help with the running of the musical fundraising event: A Gospel Christmas. You’ll also be able to watch the performances for free (!) which is pretty cool for a few short hours of volunteering if you ask me.
When: Saturday 7th December
Who: Christian Aid London
Do one of countless things for Crisis
What: Crisis famously manage one of the biggest missions to help homeless people at Christmas (as well as the rest of the year, of course), and they’re looking for all sorts of help at this critical time. Caterers, good listeners, behind the scenes movers, team leaders, IT wizards, hairdressers – the list is endless. Ideally, they want volunteers to be able to commit to a minimum of two shifts.
When: Multiple dates in the run up to Christmas
Help out at a Christmas Fayre
What: Every year, St John’s Hospice hosts a Christmas Fayre to raise money for the care and support of over 4000 patients and their family members and friends. Event volunteer duties could include selling tickets and merchandise, stewarding, assisting with setting up and more. You can choose one short shift or decide to volunteer for the whole day, whatever you prefer. I for one am intrigued to learn the difference between a ‘fair’ and ‘fayre’.
When: Sunday 1st December
Who: St John’s Hospice
Feed the homeless with friends or colleagues
What: Get a small group together and spend the morning prepping, cooking, serving food and more for hundreds of people who rely on this amazing service. It’s a great team-bonding experience and you’ll get to meet and support some lovely people. You can also do it all in an elf hat like the lovely man in the explainer video.
When: Multiple dates, contact the charity to choose a time that works for you
Who: Whitechapel Mission
Sing carols in Wimbledon
What: Christmas in the Village is coming to Wimbledon and they need helpers to bring the event to life. Sing carols, help with activities like biscuit making (potentially also eating), be part of Santa’s grotto and more. Offer your time for as little as an hour or the whole day, whatever you can spare.
When: Sunday 8th December
Who: Wimbledon Guild
Help out at a VIP Guildhall do
What: The Market is a fancy VIP event attended by a member of the Royal Family (I’m gunning for Phillip), the Lord Mayor of London and…you? Sell raffle tickets, encourage people to take part in the Silent Auction, serve drinks – there’s lots you can do to help raise a shed ton of funds for a great cause.
When: Monday 25th and Tuesday 26th November
Who: British Red Cross
Hopefully something has caught your imagination. If any of the opportunities interest you, click the links and get in touch with the relevant charities, I’m sure they’d love to hear from you.
Remember that the list above is by no means comprehensive, there are thousands of things going on all over London, so if you have any other ideas, feel free to share them in the comments below.
Let’s make it a Christmas to remember!