With Christmas trees being decorated, online food shops being booked for festive feasts and stocking fillers being hidden away from children in drawers and cupboards, it’s also the time of year when thoughts stray to those who are less fortunate. Many of us wish to give to those who might need a little extra help in our local community but don’t know where to find local good causes or how best to support them. Our ‘Christmas guide to giving’ rounds up all the local initiatives going the extra mile this year and how you can support those in need, either with the gift of time or donations.
Tower Hamlets is ranked the third most deprived local authority district in England and faces increasing food poverty rates. In response, there are a number of organisations tackling the issue head on by providing food to those struggling to make ends meet.
Bow Foodbank is going above and beyond their usual goodwill this Christmas and raising money to provide something extra in the stockings of their users.
Their Christmas Appeal is aiming to raise funds to provide over 700 clients with an additional Christmas gift, as well as the standard ten items users are usually given. If their target of £3,500 is reached, each of their clients is set to receive a box of mince pies, a Christmas pudding with custard, and a selection of biscuits or box of chocolates. The gifts will be distributed on 16th and 23rd December to spread some Christmas cheer before the festivities begin.
Currently, they have achieved just 11% of their fundraising target, so if you wish to put a smile on someone’s face who might otherwise feel disheartened this Christmas, please consider donating. A little goes a long way, with £5 providing gifts for-an-entire family.
Any extra donations will be used to fund Bow Foodbank for the rest of the year.
Open every Monday between 9:30am to12:30pm, Bow Foodbank provides ten food items every other week to their clients, over 200 of whom are ineligible for support from other food banks.
If you’d like to make a contribution and supply someone with Christmas treats, visit the Bow Foodbank donation page.
Bow Foodbank, Bow Church (St Mary & Holy Trinity Church), 230 Bow Road, London E3 3AH.
Tuesday Night Bites
Tuesday Night Bites is a new initiative aiming to provide a warm, safe space and nutritious meals to those struggling to make ends meet. Operating every Tuesday night from 6.45pm to 8.45pm in St Johns Church hall, their initiative is centred around inclusion.
Whether you need a meal, companionship or would like to volunteer your time, Neighbourhood Bites is open to all. No matter how much time you have to spare, Neighbourhood bites are grateful for anything you have to offer.
If you don’t have the time to volunteer, you can donate online to help fund the initiative and provide additional services.
Neighbourhood Bites are also looking for food donations from local businesses and will take your would-be-waste off your hands if you give them a call on 07725598051.
Neighbourhood Bites, St John’s Church, 200 Cambridge Heath Road, Bethnal Green, London, E2 9PA.
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. The total number of rough sleepers in Tower Hamlets has increased over the past five years, reaching 375 in 2017/2018 according to Tower Hamlets Council, but there are several ways you can help.
Whitechapel Mission – Sock and Choc Initiative
Whitechapel mission has been helping Londoners help the homeless since 1876, including during Christmas time.
Volunteer spaces are now filled for this year, but you can register to become a volunteer next year here. However, you can still support the Missions’ work this Christmas with donations. To make a positive impact on someone sleeping on the streets this Christmas, you can contribute to the ‘sock and choc’ initiative by wrapping a small chocolate bar in a new pair of socks. This way, the Christmas spirit can reach the hundreds of homeless that visit on Christmas day.
If you happen to find yourself overstocking the fridge this Christmas or having a clear out of your kitchen cupboards, Whitechapel Mission are in need of various store cupboard items. However, check their website for more information as they have a detailed list as to which items are needed.
As the nights get colder, winter coats and shoes are also needed, along with underwear and jeans. staff at the Centre are available from 5am-4pm on weekdays to accept your donations, and 5am-12pm 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.
Christmas dinner distribution
Well-versed in community spirit, locals Marcela Leite and Gulcan Yilmaz are continuing their annual tradition of cooking a Christmas dinner and distributing it to the homeless on 8 December.
Similar to previous years, the meal is planned to consist of a roast with all the trimmings, coupled with mulled cider or hot chocolate. Donated clothing, such as hats, socks and thermal wear will also be distributed to those in need.
If you would like to be involved in meal preparation, distribution or want to donate clothing, contact Gulcan for more information on firstname.lastname@example.org, who is happy to pick up any donations from your home.
Crisis, a national homelessness charity, have set up a way for you to reserve a place for a homeless person within their Christmas centres for just £28.87. Doing so will help them take the first steps towards a future without homelessness. Along with a Christmas dinner, people using their centres will receive support with employment, housing, a change of clothes, a hot shower, three nutritious meals, and a warm bed for the night should they need one. It truly is the gift that keeps on giving and can be done with the click of a button.
Often, animals can be a homeless person’s greatest companion and need a hot meal and warm bed too. With that in mind, Crisis have teamed up with Mayhew, a charity which helps animals and their owners together during homeslessness, to make sure pets don’t go without at Christmas either.
There are a range of gifts you can give, from caring for animals while their owners get the help they need, flea and worm treatment, having a nutritious meal, a warm coat or vet treatments.
To purchase a Christmas gift for a person sleeping on the streets or their furry companions, please visit the Crisis website.
Additionally, Crisis will be holding a Christmas Market featuring art, pre-loved clothing, jewellery and accessories. All proceeds will go towards Crisis and fund their work to help the homeless. For more information, visit the Facebook event page.
Crisis, 66 Commercial St, Spitalfields, London E1 6LT.
Donating to a good cause
With 42% of children living in poverty, the highest rate across the UK, donating to initiatives supporting families could make a child’s Christmas.
St. Margaret’s House
St. Margeret’s House is open to all sorts of donations, from unwanted Christmas gifts to cushions, art materials, bric-a-brac, the list is endless. Depending on what the donation is, there are a number of locations that can become their new home. These include Create Place, a creative arts project which offers a number of workshops and free art materials, Ayoka, St. Margaret’s resident second hand shop and Gallery Cafe. Alternatively, they can be recycled by St. Margaret’s long term partners, meaning no item will go to waste.
For more information and details about what can be donated, visit St. Margaret’s House website.
St. Margaret’s House, 21 Old Ford Rd, Bethnal Green, London E2 9PL.
Do you have old toys gathering dust and don’t know what to do with them? Donating them to your local Toy House where they can be used to help make a difference to struggling local families seems like a good place to start.
For over 35 years Toy House have been using the medium of play to help parents and children interact and share experiences, which are vital to attachment. They’re always on the lookout for children’s books and toys and during Christmas it’s often out with the old and in with the new, so they’ve put a special call out for donations.
Toy House are also hosting a ‘Nearly New Toy Sale’ at the ToyHouse centre on Tuesday 3rd December 10:30am-12pm. Toys must be in fairly good condition and sellable. All profits will help fund ToyHouse centres so that they can continue supporting families through play.
For more information visit the ToyHouse website.
Bow Toy Library, Bow Idea Store, 1 Gladstone Place, E3 5EU.
ToyHouse Centre, 92 St. Paul’s Way, E3 4AL.
Care4Calais are a volunteer-led charity, designed to help refugees living in the worst conditions across Belgium and France. Most of all, they work to provide warm clothing, bedding and food to those in urgent need.
This Christmas, put the faith back in humanity by donating any warm clothing you may have to the local drop off point in Poplar. They are in particular need of jogging bottoms or jeans, socks, hats, gloves, warm coats, backpacks and blankets.
For more details about donations they need, including food, visit their website.
St. Matthias Community Centre, 113 Poplar High Street, Poplar, London, E14 0AE.
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