For many people in London, Christmas is no fun at all. This year, you could be the one to brighten up someone's day, or even year. Whether it's working at a soup kitchen, or rattling a bucket on a street corner, the smallest things really do have a huge effect on someone else's Christmas.
Crisis at Christmas
Crisis undertakes the largest Christmas volunteering initiative in the country. It's looking for over 10,000 volunteers for a massive variety of roles. Use your skills to lead feelgood activities: massages, pilates classes or even dog sitting (no prior experience needed here, just a love of animals). There are also more traditional positions, such as their Night Owls, who help late into the night, ensuring everyone has a great Christmas experience.
Team London is the ultimate cheat sheet for volunteering in the city. They have hundreds of opportunities this Christmas; here are a couple that caught our eye:
- World Child Cancer needs enthusiastic people for charity collections outside the Royal Albert Hall this Christmas. £10,000 was raised last year with just over 30 volunteers, and they're looking to top that incredible figure in 2016.
- Volunteers are wanted for St John's Hospice Christmas Fayre. You'll have just as much fun as the families enjoying live entertainment and rides.
Operation Christmas Child
Not every child receives Christmas presents at home. This is where Operation Christmas Child comes in, delivering shoebox gifts to children all over the world. You can volunteer year-round but they especially need volunteers for Christmas.
This is the 90th Christmas appeal from St Martin in the Fields. Supported by BBC Radio 4 listeners, the appeal can only survive through the hard work and endeavor of its volunteers. They need people to get stuck in and man the phones and process donations, among other things. Be one of them.
There's nothing worse than a lonely Christmas Day. That's where Community Christmas comes in, arranging events for the elderly to come together, and share a memorable day.
After last year's massive success, Rotary Club is organising another Christmas party in Battersea Park. Volunteers are needed for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day — you can do just one, two, or all three days. Jobs include preparing the venue, helping with transport for the guests, serving food and clearing up afterwards.
Royal Holloway University
Royal Holloway University has a mountain of opportunities, ranging from helping London's Air Ambulance, to volunteering at the Salvation Army's Christmas lunch. Some positions are only for students of the university but many are for everyone.
Hackney Winter Night Shelter
Just like the proverbial dog, volunteering is not just for Christmas; and Hackney Winter Night Shelter knows this. It runs through the coldest season and needs volunteers for its shelter. You can come as infrequently as once a month — even this makes a huge difference.
The Whitechapel Mission often receives as many as 300 visitors a day during the yuletide period, and it needs a determined group of volunteers to provide for all these guests. You'll be providing not only warm food, but a touch of warmth in the lives of those less fortunate — truly in the spirit of the Christmas holiday.
Have we missed any volunteering opportunities from this list? If so, let us know in the comments or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.