The gift of giving: charities and good causes to support this Christmas
While it’s considered the ‘most wonderful time of the year,’ not all of us will be feeling the festive spirit as costs increase and inflation soars. Spread some joy and support one of our local charities this season.
The holiday season is the time for sharing cherished moments with loved ones, usually over hearty meals in cosy homes. But, with food prices and energy bills rising, and inflation at a 40-year high, the reality for many is their festive season will look very different this year.
To help support those in greater need, below are some suggestions on ways to donate time, money, or gifts to make the lives of those facing challenges a little easier and brighter this season.
Festivities and food go together like Vicky Park and the canals. But with food prices rising, many are turning to food banks and meal initiatives to help them get through the winter.
Bow Foodbank has served the people of Bow and Bethnal Green for eight years but the last two have been some of its toughest. The food bank has seen a 115% increase in its service users this autumn. As 90% of its food is sourced, it is looking for monetary donations to go towards its weekly £5,000 food bill, which feeds 650 clients a week. For more information about donating visit Bowfoodbank.org.
Alternatively, if you have a few spare pounds and pence rattling around in your pocket, head to Roman Road’s vegan restaurant E3 Vegan which has set up a money jar for Bow Foodbank.
There is also the option to donate food to the food bank. Better Gyms has food drop-off points at all seven of its locations in the borough. Other food drop-off points include SimplyFresh on Roman Road, St Paul’s Old Ford on St. Stephen’s Road, Maks News on Columbia Road, and Waitrose on Thomas More Street.
Bow Foodbank, Bromley-by-Bow-Centre, St. Leonard’s Street, E3 3BT
Helping the Homeless
Christmas is often a time of celebration and joy, but for the homeless and those living in poverty across London, it doesn’t always feel that way. There are several ways you can help.
Spitalfields Crypt Trust
Hope is often a word used around this time; hope for brighter and better days. And no organisation feels this more than Spitalfields Crypt Trust.
This year, Spitalfields Crypt Trust (SCT) is taking part in the Big Give and has centred its fundraising campaign around the theme of ‘Hope and Recovery’; its Fundraising Manager, Tom Turnbull explains that SCT settled on this theme because ‘hope can help make a difficult situation more bearable and can help motivate us to take steps to achieve a better life.’ Any money raised will support its projects and services, including specialist addiction treatment, housing support, and training and development opportunities. To donate, visit SCT’s fundraising page at Sct.org.uk/the-big-give/.
SCT is also looking for people to contribute a message of hope to its new winter brochure. Head to one of its six shops and ask for a ‘Hope’ postcard where you can write or draw what hope means to you during the winter season. SCT will collate all the finished postcards and include the messages in its winter brochure, which will be published at the end of November.
Spitalfields Crypt Trust, 116-118 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JN
Whitechapel Mission has been helping Londoners help the homeless since 1876, including during Christmas time. Its winter ‘Socks ‘n’ Chocs’ initiative is back again this year. Its aim is to give its service users fresh warm new socks wrapped around a small car of chocolate on Christmas Day. If you want to gift socks and chocolate, the deadline for this is Friday 14 December. The organisation is also in need of more sleeping bags and blankets, and especially needs woollen hats, gloves, and scarves, hygiene kits and Oyster Cards.
If you happen to find yourself overstocking the fridge or having a clear out of your kitchen cupboards, Whitechapel Mission is also in need of various store cupboard items. Check its Christmas gift list at Whitechapel.org.uk/christmas-giftlist for a daily updated list of donations that are needed most.
Staff at the Centre are available from 6am-4pm on weekdays to accept your donations, and 6am-11.30pm on weekends. No matter how small, your donations can make a lasting difference to those living on the streets.
Whitechapel Mission, 212 Whitechapel Road, London, E1 1BJ.
Support to a good cause
From giving a child a toy this Christmas, to volunteering with the most vulnerable in our community, there are plenty of ways you can support those less fortunate this festive season.
St. Paul’s Old Ford
St Paul’s Old Ford has organised a big Christmas lunch on Christmas Day to help struggling families this winter. The church’s team will be catering for up to 80 people and offering a three-course dinner with trimmings for £5 for adults and £2.50 for children. Its theme is red and gold and it is looking for donations towards the event, such as red and gold Christmas crackers, and red and gold table napkins, buying someone, or a family, a ticket, donating gifts for its guests to open over lunchtime, or gifting boxes of wrapped chocolates, such as Celebrations, Lindt, or Ferrero Rocher.
It is also seeking volunteers to join the team on the day to serve food and spend a few hours on Christmas Day with people from their community. The church’s reverend, Darius Weithers said, ‘The criteria is: if you want to spend some time on Christmas Day with old and new friends from your community then we welcome you!’ you would like to help, call the church on 020 8981 4655, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit its event page at Eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-big-christmas-dinner-tickets-450530718507?aff=ebdssbdestsearch.
St Pauls Old Ford, St Stephen’s Road, Old Ford E3 5JL
East London Christmas Toy Appeal
Children are often the hardest hit in times of crises and this is no more pronounced than in Tower Hamlets where over half of the borough’s children live in poverty. That’s why East London Toy Appeal was set up to give disadvantaged East End children a happier Christmas.
Demand for its services is at an all-time high; it has already received requests for 19,000 toys this autumn alone compared to 18,000 at Christmas time last year. If you can help and donate a toy to the appeal, get in touch with Smera Nadeem at email@example.com.
Mall Level -1, Jubilee Place, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5NY
East London Cares
Although the festive season is a time for fun with family and friends, the season can also prove to be one of the loneliest times, particularly for the elderly. East London Cares seeks to change that by bringing together young and old with its Love Your Neighbour programme, a friendship match-making scheme. The team is looking for young volunteers this season, and is particularly keen to hear from people in Bow.
East London Cares is also organising holiday social events, including a jazz evening at Bethnal Green’s Oxford House on 25 November and, and a winter party in Bethnal Green on 10 December. Anyone who wants to volunteer or attend events needs to sign up first at Eastlondoncares.org.uk/get-involved-1.
East London Cares, 15 Old Ford Road, E2 9PL
Streets of Growth
Support Tower Hamlets’ youth charity Streets of Growth by heading to Urban Makers’ Christmas Market on 11 December at Mile End Ecology Pavilion. Urban Makers is working with the organisation to give young people the opportunity to trade at its Christmas market for free. Browse its stalls for handmade jewellery, printed hoodies and t-shirts, and hair scrunchies made from reclaimed fabric, all designed and made by young people.
Ecology Pavilion, 125 Grove Road, E3 5RP
Be the one who causes joy by volunteering at Ayoka during the holidays. St. Margaret’s House’s charity shop in Old Ford Road, Ayoka (a Nigerian name that means ‘one who causes joy’) is looking for festive shop volunteers to serve curious browsers and savvy buyers on the hunt for bargains stocking fillers.
Ayoka, 23 Old Ford Road, E2 9PJ
Haven House Children’s Hospice
Support East London children’s hospice Haven House by buying tree decorations and baubles with local graffiti wordings from Hackney Wickmas at Hackney Bridge. For each sold bauble, Hackney Wickmas will donate £1 to the children’s hospice which provides care to life-limited children and their families at no cost to them.
Hackney Bridge, Units 1-28, Echo Building, East Bay Lane E15 2SJ
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