Get us in your inbox


Here’s where to volunteer in London this Christmas

By Stephanie Hartman

In London, there are heaps of charities supporting the homeless, elderly and those with disabilities, and although they need extra hands all year round in order to support the brilliant work they do, they’re always looking for more volunteers over the cold winter months. If you’re seeking an entry point into volunteering this Christmas, get in touch with one of the organisations doing great things below.

Crisis at Christmas

Healthcare professionals, creative people wanting to run workshops, hairdressers, those able to check on the health of furry friends that come in with their owners, and volunteers who can provide emotional and spiritual support to guests are just some of the types of people Crisis is recruiting for this Christmas. Help in the kitchen is also needed, as are sports and wellbeing coordinators to help boost self-esteem and get guests moving. If any of the above sound good to you, sign up online.

Shelter from the Storm

This Islington charity funded by donations alone is open all year round. Sheila Scott and Louie Salvoni founded the shelter back in 2007 with a mission to house London’s homeless and support them no matter who they are or where they come from.

Volunteers are needed for various tasks, including cooking, cleaning and laundry, and a team is always required for overnight shifts to ensure guests are kept safe until a new team arrives at 6.30am to rustle up breakfast. Companies looking to do some group volunteering can sign up for a monthly deep clean of the kitchen and sleeping area, which doesn’t sound glamorous but is vital in ensuring that the shelter runs smoothly.

If you’re looking to help in an even bigger way, Shelter from the Storm is currently on the lookout for a new home, as its lease on a building in King’s Cross is coming to an end. If you’re a landlord or know of a space at least 3,000 sq ft in north London, get in touch by emailing

Hackney Winter Night Shelter © Paul Driver

Hackney Winter Night Shelter

Hackney Night Shelter operates from a different venue each night of the week, with buildings across Hackney and the Bethnal Green area opening their doors to the homeless throughout the bitter winter. Providing hot meals and a warm place to sleep is key, but the shelter also offers professional and holistic support to visitors, with a goal of eradicating homelessness in the area. The shelter is always looking for new volunteers to join the team and you can fill out an application form on the website if you want to get involved.

Jacksons Lane

Every Christmas Day, Jacksons Lane in north London welcomes local elderly and disabled people who would otherwise spend Christmas alone through its doors. Guests are treated to Christmas dinner, festive tipples, presents and entertainment, plus Santa’s been known to pop his head in too. The day is totally volunteer led and they rely on donations to ensure the day is a success. Offer your time on the big day by cooking, driving guests, or providing entertainment, or give money (£20 needs to be raised per head for 80 guests) if you can’t help out in person.

St Mungo's

St Mungo’s Christmas Collections

Shake a bucket for St Mungo’s this Christmas and help raise funds for the charity and housing association working with people sleeping rough, in hostels and at risk of becoming homeless.

On Wednesday December 13 and Friday December 15, ten of London’s train and tube stations will see volunteers collecting money, and more sign-ups are needed to ensure as much as possible is raised between 7am and 7pm. No prior experience is needed and you can collect by yourself or with friends and family. Up for belting out a carol or two? The charity is also looking for choirs to get involved. Sign up here.

Age UK

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. The charity’s latest short film shows the crushing monotony of a lonely widower whose Christmas Day is no different from any other day. The film is a call for viewers to pledge their support or donate to the charity, and there are multiple ways to get involved, including befriending a local elderly person in your community, making time for a weekly call with an older person or volunteering at national events.

Here are 28 simple ways you can make London better. Or why not swap the gym for these London exercise classes that really are changing lives.

Popular on Time Out

    Latest news

      Read next