We’ve all been there, half way through watching Scrooged on Christmas eve and suddenly that creeping feeling of guilt comes on. This was going to be the year that you fed the homeless/saved the planet/ checked on an elderly neighbour during the cold spell. Yet somehow, it never happened.
But fear not, you still have a month to put this right, Ebeneezer style, and stop 2013 from turning into another one of those years that you just let things pass you by.
In this season of goodwill, there are dozens of ways to help charities this Christmas and it’s around this time of year we should all try to do something, no matter how small, to help out others less fortunate than us. As Meg March put it so succinctly “That’s loving our neighbour better than ourselves, and I like it”.
In response to my pals who have asked me for ideas, I’ve put together some suggestions of ways to make a difference to people in Brighton & Hove this Christmas.
These are just ideas of things that I happen to know about. There are dozens more ways to spread goodwill so please feel free to suggest any others that you know about using the comment form at the bottom.
So here’s how to spread some festive cheer in Brighton & Hove this Christmas, whether it’s time, money or something else that you’re able to give.
1) Donate a toy
Juice 107.2 are running a Christmas Toy appeal in recognition of the fact that 20% of children in Brighton & Hove are living in unacceptable levels of poverty and may not otherwise receive any toys for Christmas. Deliver your new, unwrapped toys to Juice or any of their alternative drop off points and they will make sure they are given to a nice new owner.
2) Treat someone to a suspended coffee at The Mad Hatter.
The concept of suspended coffee originated in Italy and means that when you buy yourself a coffee, you pay for an extra cup which can be ordered later by someone who can’t afford one themselves. The Mad Hatter on the corner of Montpelier Road and Western Road (opposite Waitrose) were the first place in Brighton to offer suspended coffee and now that the weather has turned colder they have extended the scheme to soup and toast. Awesome. Read more about it in the piece the Argus wrote back in May.
3) Donate something fancy to your local food bank.
Food banks are charitable institutions, funded by and stocked with donations from the public and other charities, which provide emergency food supplies and toiletries to those in crisis. At Christmas, what nicer surprise for a family that can’t afford fancy things to be handed a box of biscuits, a pot of jam or some lovely toiletries along with the tins of soup and loaf of bread that they would otherwise receive. Your local church will be able to take your donations or direct you to a local food bank. If you’re not familiar with how food banks work, have a read of the piece I wrote after I visited the City Mission Basics Bank this summer.
4) Take part in the FareShare Food Drive on 29th and 30th November.
FareShare Brighton & Hove distributes food to over 50 charities in our city, most of which is surplus directly from the food industry. But twice a year, FareShare run a food drive in collaboration with Tesco to supplement their food stock with long life foods such as cereals, tins, pasta and rice. You can help by either:
a) Volunteering to hand out shopping lists of desirable items to customers & collecting donations at the end of their Tesco shop or
b) Buying a few extra bits and pieces at Tesco this weekend and donating them to the volunteers at the end of your shop.
Food blogger Jack Monroe highlighted on her 22 meals for £3 campaign how many meals you can create for just a few quid.
And if you can’t make it to the Food Drive, FareShare would be very grateful of a cash donation which you can make by texting FSBH11 £2 to 70070
5) Give blood.
Hospitals in England and North Wales will need up to half a million units of blood to see them through the Christmas period. However, Christmas shopping, the party season, extended public holidays and winter weather tend to mean pressure on blood stocks. Watch this tear-jerker of a vid and find out more about how to give blood.
6) Buy presents for rough sleepers.
Project Antifreeze on Portland Road cares for the basic needs of people sleeping rough in Brighton & Hove, providing them with food, clothing, toiletries and facilities as well as pointing out the dangers of sleeping rough and helping them to move on when they’re ready. The project have an amazon Wish List of items that they require, you simply buy an item online and it will be delivered direct to the project.
7) a) Donate your furniture & pre-loved goods to charity.
If you’re making room for new things in your home this Christmas, consider having a thorough early Christmas clear out and donating your preloved items to a local charity. Charity shops don’t tend to receive much in the way of donations at this time of year so will be happy to hear from you. Ring Emmaus Brighton on 012730426480 or Martletts on 01273 721188 and they will collect from your house for free. Bonus points if you gift aid your donations as this means the charities can claim 25% back in tax when your items are sold.
7) b) Shop in charity shops.
Our city is home to dozens of charity shops, each one bursting with unique and eclectic 2nd hand and vintage presents for your loved ones. Many charity shops sell new items and Christmas cards too and if you’re expecting extra guests during December, you should definitely head to Emmaus in Portslade where you can pick up a bargain chair for under a tenner and a handy drop leaf table for around £40. Plus there is plenty of cutlery and crockery too, with dinner plates and mugs just 50p each, 5p for a piece of cutlery and 3 for £1 on glassware.
8) Eat greasy burgers
Ace new restaurant Meat Liquor is taking part in the Street Smart scheme, asking for a donation of £1 on every bill which is then given to local homeless charities. Their website is fab, showing clearly where the donations are going to in each local area, for example in Brighton & Hove. In addition to Meat Liquor, you can find a list of other local participating restaurants on the Street Smart website too. Hold your office Christmas do at one of them.
9) Donate towels and blankets to animal shelters
Animal shelters such as the RSPCA in Patcham are expensive to run and rely on cash donations from the public. They are also very grateful for donations of blankets and towels to help keep the animals warm and dry when the weather turns cold. Get in touch with them on 01273 554218 if you have items to donate.