Give Back this Christmas: Volunteer Projects in Your Community
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Despite what social media says, life’s not all about merch, models and selfies. In all the mayhem of Black Friday and office Christmas parties we seem to have forgotten what the season is all about. Jesus? No fuck that guy, we were thinking more along the lines of 'giving'.
Throughout London there are a heap of amazing projects to get involved with, offering you a chance to give back to that community of yours. So if you’re looking for a self-improvement project that is more rewarding than a jog round the block, take a look at these volunteering opportunities - you may learn something amazing.
Host cocktail parties in care homes
Arts charity Magic Me supports elderly communities in all sorts of lovely ways. Aiming to bridge the gap between generations, it gets young people involved in a number of projects with the elderly. These range from theatre productions to, our personal favourite, cocktails in care homes.
Once signed up you can pop along to one party a month (these happen all over London), serve drinks and have a proper natter with the residents.
Bond with a young whippersnapper
The Kids Network connects young professionals to vulnerable children in their local area. London can be a lonely place, but this program means the likes of us can feel more connected with our community, rather than just being the face of gentrification.
You get paired up with a little pal between the ages of 8-11, helping support their confidence and just hanging out. Luckily you get plenty of training and a support network to help you casually inspire a young 'un. No pressure.
Teach English to refugees
If you've still not used that TEFL you studied for in a post-uni meltdown, put it to good use with a charity like CARAS (community action for refugees and asylum seekers). They do a stellar job supporting people of refugee and asylum-seeking background who live in South West London.
They are often looking for qualified, volunteer English teachers to teach adults and children. If that's not you, try their youth clubs, day trips out, women's drop-in centres and advocacy support.
Reduce food waste and feed some folk
Food waste plain sucks, especially when so many Londoners are hungry. Join the good fight by volunteering with Food Cycle. It works by taking surplus food from supermarkets, setting up in spare kitchen spaces and making tasty, nutritious meals. These go to people at risk of food poverty and social isolation.
According to the charity, UK supermarkets throw away 400,000 tonnes of food every year, so there's plenty to go around. Ideal for the three course meal they're planning for Christmas day!
Make a friend, end social isolation
Cities are notoriously solitary places, with loneliness sited as a main catalyst for mental health issues and even premature death among older people and disabled adults.
Dorcas Befriending Project in North London are working to eliminate social isolation by thoughtfully pairing volunteers with someone in their community that needs the company. Commit to just one hour a week and spend your time together gardening, baking, playing cards, going out to the pub, or just having a chat and a cuppa.
Join an all female collective
Remember brownies? Well they're still a thing. But with over 70,000 girls on their waiting list Girl Guiding are crying out for volunteers. Register with what skills you can offer and how much time you have to spare and they will find the perfect role for you. These range from running regular group activities and being a guide leader to doing one-off sessions sharing your particular skills.
Help homeless people rebuild their lives
St Mungo's is leading the way for homeless charities, helping people find solutions to their housing, employment, training and health needs. They've got all sorts of volunteer opportunities so you can find one that fits your skills. Give being a breakfast club volunteer a go, or try running art groups, delivering massage, running gardening workshops, and offering translation services to the homeless refugee community.
Some of their volunteer spots only require 1.5 hours a week - pretty manageable if you ask us.