Forget gorging on mini-Snickers from the Celebrations box and watching ‘The Great Escape’ in a sherry-induced stupor this Christmas. The final days of 2018 are a time for action. Charities supporting the homeless, elderly and those with disabilities need plenty of helping hands at this time of year. Here are some of the ways you can get involved.
Sign up for some serious bucket-shaking to raise money for St Mungo’s homeless charity and housing association. On December 12, 14, 19 and 21, teams of coin collectors will gather at eight of London’s biggest train and tube stations to help raise vital funds. It’s all hands on deck for this one: no experience is needed and you can collect by yourself or with friends and family. Grab some mates, a few Santa hats, belt out some carols and you’ve got yourself a party. Find out more at www.mungos.org/event/christmas-collections, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 3856 6374.
Every day of the year, Rhythms of Life’s volunteers head out on to London’s streets to distribute nutritious meals, clothes, toiletries and sleeping bags to people sleeping rough in the city. Set up in 2008 by Andrew Faris, who was homeless for five years, the charity is staffed entirely by volunteers. Whether you fancy pitching in for two weeks or two years, every volunteer helps to support London’s rough sleepers over Christmas. Find out more at www.rhythmsoflife.org.uk or email email@example.com.
Are you part of a stonking covers band or a local ukulele troupe? Can you and your pals do a fabulous acapella version of ‘Good King Wenceslas’? National homeless charity Crisis is looking for 200 musical Londoners to help put on a festive show for its guests at its centres across London between December 23 and 29. Send a video or audio link showcasing the act you want to perform and if you’re selected you can go ‘on tour’ and play at several Crisis locations over the Christmas period. The rock star life beckons. Find out more at www.crisis.org.uk/get-involved.
Every year, north London’s creative space Jacksons Lane opens its doors to those who would otherwise be alone on Christmas Day. Right now, organisers are looking for volunteer drivers who can transport visitors to and from the venue for a day of food, gifts and entertainment. Helpers will also welcome in the Jackson Lane kitchen as they whip up Christmas dinner. Find out more by here.
Do you have more prowess with sticky tape than a ‘Blue Peter’ presenter? Wimbledon Guild, a welfare charity that supports people in Merton through a range of services including counselling and financial support, is looking for nimble fingers to help wrap Christmas presents. Volunteers will be manning its gift-wrapping service between December 14 and 21 at the Centre Court Shopping Centre, where shoppers can have their gifts wrapped for a small donation. If you can curl ribbons with that scissor trick, there’s no excuse not lend a hand. Find out more at www.wimbledonguild.co.uk/volunteer.
Find out what else is happening in London this Christmas with our guide