Photo From ‘Wood Street Mission Archive’
By Jessica Carruthers
I’m sure by now you have all settled in, or for returning students, settled back in to the “newly voted best city” to live in the UK – we can all definitely vouch for that, that’s for sure! We are already well on our way into December, and soon enough Christmas is going to be creeping upon us. So, although this is a time for joy and celebrating, especially with all the fabulous things to do in Manchester in the weeks leading up to Christmas; this is also the time to think of those who are less fortunate than you and may not have the luxuries we do over this period.
I have conjured up a list of different charities and ways you are able to help touch the hearts of others and bring the Christmas spirit to as many people this year.
Help the Homeless
Homelessness is a massive growing concern throughout the streets of Manchester, with a rise of over 50% within the past year. As the weather conditions get colder and in Manchester’s style, a lot wetter, we draw closer to Christmas life on the streets and as an unfortunate result for the homeless, life gets tougher.
Luckily there are a vast number of charities running throughout Greater Manchester that help to support the homeless. Support is particularly urged over the festive period, therefore there are many ways you would be able to help.
Barnabus is a charity based in Manchester to help the homeless. Over the Christmas period they have a ‘Christmas appeal’; here you can donate gifts to be given out as Christmas presents to the homeless. Now, I know what you might be thinking, I understand you are students but this is not something that will break the bank, suggestions on their website are for example mince pies, chocolates and socks. Which although may not seem like much to you, but for someone it could mean the world. Barnabus is however shut this Christmas from 22nd December until 4th January, to give the hard workers of this fabulous charity a well earned break. However, many other charities within Manchester are open to the homeless over this period, and volunteers are welcomed to help at the homeless shelters during this peak time.
If you would like to know more about donating to Barnabus, or you are even considering volunteering on a weekly basis with them, visit their website here.
‘Lifeshare’ is an example of one of the many homeless shelters that are open for volunteers for the peak Christmas days. They run a Christmas Project to host for the homeless from the 23rd December – 29th December. However they also need volunteers prior to these dates to help prepare for the festivities. If you are interested in volunteering during the Christmas period in a homeless shelter, please visit Lifeshares website, you can find them here.
Help the Elderly
I feel this is one area that has been massively overlooked. I myself wasn’t fully aware of the extent of the suffering of loneliness with the elderly until the release of the new John Lewis Christmas advert, ‘Man on the Moon’. Most of us, myself included, will take for granted having people we love constantly around us, whether it is to talk on the phone or actual physical contact. However, it has come to my knowledge that not everyone has this simple privilege and it is something that has become common with the elderly. Although this is a sad thought, to think of someone alone at a time when everyone should be brought together, there are ways that you can help with a number of charities that are solely run to help support the elderly and tackle loneliness.
One charity I have found is ‘Community Christmas’. This is run throughout the whole of the UK and supports communities in organising events on Christmas day as a place for the elderly to go to enjoy the festivities together. There appears to be many events being hosted across the UK, so there is definitely room for our support. They need volunteers to attend the events being hosted, which you can search with your postcode on the website to see what there is in your local area. If however there isn’t one in your local community, there is the opportunity to create your own and be a lunch organiser! If this interests you, then you can find out all the details on their website.
Help Underprivileged Children
You are never more excited for Christmas as you are as a child. I remember how excited I would be on Christmas Eve, so excited in fact, I wouldn’t be able to sleep and was then terrified Santa wouldn’t bring my presents. There are however many children that may not experience this feeling of pure joy and excitement on Christmas Eve, as there are so many underprivileged families with children, barely able to get by, never mind get the toys and games children long for on this day. There are charities that help support these underprivileged families and children, particularly at this crucial time of year in childhood.
‘Wood Street Mission’ is a charity run in Manchester; it helps support less fortunate children and families in Manchester and Salford areas with things we would take for granted. The Christmas period is a very busy time for this charity, therefore they run a Christmas appeal. The Christmas Appeal asks for donations of new gifts of an average price of £10 for children aged up to 12 years old. You can also donate food that will be made into hampers, given alongside the Children’s presents to the underprivileged families, making their Christmas an extremely happy occasion. They also ask for donations and volunteers all year round. If you are interested in helping then please visit their website here.
There are so many opportunities out there that we can take to make a difference to someone else. So why not start at Christmas, the time of Love, joy and giving and help spread the festive joy to people who may not have thought they would feel it this Christmas.