Christmas is a magical time of year, where you kick back and relax with your family. At least it should be. Not everyone can enjoy that luxury. But you can help. Here are just some of the places you can volunteer at Christmas in London.
Crisis at Christmas
The biggest volunteering operation across the nation every Christmas takes place in Crisis's day centres and rough sleeper centres. Crisis at Christmas has an abundance of ways you can help make someone else's yuletide season that extra bit special. Past years, there have been volunteer roles for doctors, musicians, cooks, good listeners, and more. This year's registration will open in October so keep an eye on the website.
Team London Christmas volunteering
Team London is the ultimate search tool for volunteering opportunities, ideal when Google lets you down. These aren't necessarily Christmas related — the service runs all year-round — but type the keyword 'Christmas' into the search engine, if you need your volunteering to be festive flavoured.
The London Basket Brigade
This charity idea came about to put food on the tables of families in need on Christmas Day. 1,250 baskets are delivered on 23 December, and volunteers are needed to put the baskets together, and to drive and deliver them. Find out about Christmas 2018 (on Sunday 23 December) volunteering opportunities here.
Shelter From The Storm
This homeless shelter in Islington is open all year round, and is completely free for those who need it. As with all shelters, demand is higher in the winter, and people are needed for shifts. Tasks include cleaning, cooking, serving food and talking to guests. Find out more here.
Hackney Winter Night Shelter
Open from November to March each year, Hackney Winter Night Shelter provides a bed for the night and a hot meal for people who would otherwise be sleeping on the streets, and it needs volunteers throughout its season. Tasks include cooking and serving meals, doing laundry, getting to know the people staying there, and staying overnight to make sure everything runs smoothly. Find out more and volunteer here.
London winter night shelters
Aside from the shelters mentioned above, plenty of others operate in London and are equally worthy of help. Sleeping rough on the streets of London in winter is a horrible experience, and shelters try to alleviate these issues, and give people a warm place to sleep for the night.
Here's a list of winter night shelters across London — why not contact your nearest one and see if it needs volunteers this year.
St Martin-in-the-Fields Christmas appeal
St Martin-in-the-Fields — AKA Trafalgar Square's church with the warped window — teams up with BBC Radio 4 to run a Christmas appeal every year. It usually need volunteers to process donations from the willing public. Keep en eye on the website for this year's info.
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. Have a look for events taking place near you, and see what roles are available — it could be driving elderly people to events, cooking for the events, entertaining, or just generally making sure things run smoothly. If you're feeling really bold, why not organise your own event?
Rotary Club holds a massive Christmas day party, for over-65s living in Wandsworth. The wild shindig (we presume), takes place in Battersea Park. Last year, 450 elderly people who otherwise would have been along went along.
Volunteers are needed for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, and applications for 2018 are now open. 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.
The Whitechapel Mission receives as many as 300 visitors a day during December, and it needs a willing 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.
Salvation Army Christmas volunteering
Salvation Army churches are busy at Christmas, running the annual Christmas toy appeal as well as hosting night shelters. You may be needed to sort through donated toys and gifts, serve festive meals or help out in other ways at night shelters. Contact your nearest Salvation Army church to find out more.
Plenty of charities hold collections in the run-up to Christmas, when the general public is high on good will. We've noticed in particular the Spinal Injuries Association is looking for several people to shake buckets at tube stations in the run-up to Christmas this year.
Know any more places to volunteer over the Christmas season. Let us know down in the comments or email firstname.lastname@example.org.