How To Give Back This Christmas

By Ellie Smith

6 months ago

Get into the real spirit of Christmas by supporting those in need


For many people, Christmas is a joyful time spent with loved ones – but for others, it’s one of the hardest periods of the year. Every year numerous charities make urgent call outs for volunteers and donations, and the current cost of living crisis means the need will be even greater in 2023. So, as the Christmas countdown begins, we bring you a list of charitable initiatives that need extra support. From food bank donations and volunteering to helping vulnerable people, here are some ways you can give back this Christmas.

How To Give Back This Christmas

Donate Money

If you’re in a position where you can donate money, countless charities are in need of extra financial support. Below we highlight some of them, but the list is by no means exhaustive.

  • According to Age UK, almost 1.5 million older people feel more lonely at Christmas than any other time of the year – and in 2021, the charity’s advice line received 31,471 calls on Christmas Day alone. All donations help towards providing support and friendship. Donate at ageuk.org.uk
  • GOSH (the charity linked to Great Ormond Street Hospital) has launched the Christmas Stocking Appeal 2023 to help get children in hospital home to their families for Christmas. Donations will also go towards making the hospital feel like a home from home for those who are, very sadly, too ill to do so. When making your donation, the charity is encouraging donors to add a special Christmas stocking message, which will then be displayed throughout the hospital. (And if you want to go the extra mile – literally – you can organise a sponsored walk, wearing your favourite festive socks, to raise funds for GOSH). Donate at gosh.org
  • The global economic crisis is affecting all of us, particularly in the world’s poorest countries. However, women and girls are finding innovative ways to feed their families in a more sustainable way, and charity ActionAid is working to support them by offering training in climate-resilient farming and setting up community seedbanks. Donate at actionaid.org.uk
  • Help light up this Christmas for a child who is vulnerable or in care by donating to the UK’s largest reading charity, BookTrust. This will help send book parcels to food banks across the country so that, as well as food on the table at Christmas, children will also have presents to open. Each book parcel will include an illustrated bookmark, a poster and an author’s letter. Donate at booktrust.org.uk
  • An increasing number of people are having to use food banks. According to the Trussell Trust, banks are giving out more food than is being donated for the first time ever – so any spare cash you can give will certainly go a long way. Donate at trusselltrust.org
  • Want to help protect Britain’s rivers? River Action UK is on a mission to rescue our rivers (including the River Wye and the New Forest wetlands) from pollution, empowering environmental activists and challenging industrial polluters. Donate at riveractionuk.com

Donate Food and Gifts

Another way to help is by donating food and gift products to those in need – from families struggling to make ends meet to people forced into homelessness as a result of the cost of living crisis.

Food Banks

  • Many Salvation Army churches and centres across the UK are calling for toy and gift donations for those who might not otherwise receive a present as part of the Christmas Appeal. 
  • Have you got an old phone kicking around at home? Donate it to someone who doesn’t have one through Community Calling, a campaign running in partnership with Virgin Media O2 which helps people get digitally connected – plus, it cuts down e-waste.
  • Crisis, the UK’s national charity for people experiencing homelessness, has issued an urgent call for donations, which are then processed in the Canning Town warehouse. Check its website for a list of items that are needed.
  • Another way to help the Trussell Trust is by donating food – either directly to one of its banks, or at one of the collection points across the country. Find your local bank here.
  • If your house is filled with books, why not give some to those who don’t have any? The Children’s Book Project is a charity that distributes new and gently used books to children and their families across London. There are drop-off points across the city.

Give Your Time

Volunteering is another way to help overwhelmed food banks. The Trussell Trust shares opportunities here, while FareShare is always looking for people to help with fundraising, engagement, admin and driving.

You can also volunteer from home. Spare half an hour a week, for instance, to chat to an older, vulnerable person with Age UK’s telephone friendship project. Places like Shout and Mind, meanwhile, run crisis text services to help people struggling with their mental health. Anyone interested should be aware that these roles often require a fair amount of training.

Person helping at a food bank

Support Refugees

We’re seeing the biggest movement of people to Europe since the refugee crisis after World War II. If you’ve got a spare room at home, you could help by offering your hospitality for a period of time. The Room For Refugees network connects people who can host a refugee in their home with asylum seekers looking for somewhere to stay.

Buy From Small Businesses

Unlike big companies, small businesses often can’t benefit from the Black Friday sales boom, and many struggle to stay afloat. So: when buying this Christmas, shop independent. Visit virtual markets and online charity stores to find unique, one-off gifts, buy books from independent bookshops instead of Amazon, and get your turkey from a local farm shop instead of the supermarket. You can also shop at social enterprises which are helping to fund community initiatives and charity projects.

Christmas gift

Buy Charitable Gifts

Invest in gifts with a conscience this year. You could donate to a charity on someone’s behalf, or buy someone a present of which the proceeds go to a good cause. This Yellow Bee Bottle, for instance, helps to fund the work of Samaritans, while proceeds from cookbook Eat With Beder go towards Beder, a charity raising money for mental health and suicide prevention. There’s also social enterprise Artbox London, a charity working with people with learning disabilities and autism, which sells some lovely prints and stationery.