A list of everything you can do at Christmas when you can’t celebrate with loved ones.
The holidays can be tough. For every Brady Bunch-type family who began making elaborate plans exactly five months ago as Coronavirus pandemic restrictions eased, there’s many more who find the whole thing extremely overwhelming.
If you’ve just suffered a loss, for example, or if you’re unable to be around family – being alone for Christmas can be a pretty tough time. Others might have work obligations, family disputes or simply a lack of funds to hop on a flight home.
If this sounds like you, the most important thing to remember is that you should be patient and gentle with yourself. If you’re feeling low or not in the mood to celebrate, that’s absolutely fine. Just because it’s Christmas, doesn’t mean everything in your life has to be wrapped up in a tightly knotted bow and sparkling under candlelight.
1) Make cocktails with the elderly
Sounds intriguing, right? Based in London, Magic Me is an arts charity bringing the generations together to build a stronger, safer community.
In 2011, the initiative launched ‘Cocktails in Care Homes’, inviting volunteers to head down to a local care home to whip up anything from a gin & tonic to ice-cold cosmopolitans for the elderly, before sitting down to have a good old chinwag about life.
2) Volunteer with YES Group London Basket Brigade
If you can’t bare the thought of others not having food on the table come Christmas time, now is the time to offer your help. The London Basket Brigade’s mission is to make up baskets – otherwise known as ‘Hampers of Happiness’ – to be delivered to more than thousands of baskets on December 23.
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This charity idea came about over 40 years ago and sees thousands of volunteers coming together in around the world to provide baskets of food and household items for an estimated 4 million people. Last year’s YES Group London Basket Brigade welcomed over 700 volunteers and we delivered 1,500 hampers.
3) Offer up your night to the Hackney Winter Night Shelter
Open from November to March each year, Hackney Winter Night Shelter offers a bed for the night and a hot meal for people who would otherwise be sleeping rough. Without its team of volunteers, it simply would be unable to run.
During the night, a volunteer’s first shift will see them preparing the venue, while the second will involve cooking and servicing dinner and offering guests conversation in a friendly environment. ‘Some then stay overnight as part of our overnight shift, and then a final shift arrives first thing to serve breakfast or help clear up,’ the organisation’s website explains.
4) Volunteer in Calais
Care4Calais is a French/UK registered charity that works to support refugees sleeping rough in Calais, directly with a focus on providing fresh meals, warm clothing, heating and social interaction.
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With mobile English workshops, sports days and art and music initiatives, to helping search for refugees in need of help, visiting those in detention, and organising the warehouse on site, your efforts are in need more than ever this Christmas.
5) Join Goodgym
Over a million older people in the UK are always or often lonely and many go for months without seeing friends or family. And that’s where GoodGym is here to help.
GoodGym is a weekly running club that combines regular exercise with helping the community. Whether it’s jogging to plant trees for a local park and shifting earth for a community gardening project to sorting cans for a food bank, the charity works hard to improve the quality of life for the elderly by ensuring volunteering fits easily into busy schedules.
Regardless or how you feel about Christmas, we can all agree it’s the perfect time to reconnect with old pals and celebrate having time off, even it’s just to eat to our heart’s content, guilt-free.
However, if – for whatever reason – you’re feeling lonely, sad or just need someone to talk to this festive season, remember that help is close at hand.