#TRVSTLOVES Ways to Give Back this Christmas

#TRVSTLOVES Ways to Give Back this Christmas

Welcome to #TRVSTLOVES. We curate news, ideas, and inspiration from across the world that demonstrate how real action can accomplish a positive social impact. As we head towards Christmas, we’re taking a look at a few charities doing great things and just some of the ways of giving back this year.

Crisis

Crisis at Christmas
Photo Credit: Crisis

As you’d expect, being homeless has a massive impact on both physical and mental health. According to Crisis, the national charity for homeless people, the 

“average age of death for people experiencing homelessness is 45 for men and 43 for women”. 

And yet, during the second quarter of 2021, statistics in England showed that 

“66,040 households were initially assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness”.

Some of the causes of homelessness are the very reason that it’s such a complex problem to remedy; for example, mental or physical issues can make it more of a challenge to access support services as there are specific requirements to be met.

As we approach the end of the year, now is as good a time as ever to support Crisis as they run their annual Crisis at Christmas campaign, asking people to donate towards a gift of food, companionship, and care. There are also other ways to get involved throughout the year to help support the work of this charity. 

Related: To further inspire collective action this holiday season as the cold weather creeps in, we have a list of homelessness quotes to encourage people to stop and think about those that might not have a roof over their heads or a permanent place to sleep.

For more background on the topic, browse our compile of homelessness facts and statistics that point to the size and importance of the problem. 

Tackling Loneliness

Campaign to end loneliness
Photo Credit: Campaign to end loneliness

Loneliness is something that, throughout our lifetimes, many of us are likely to experience. Bereavement, breakups, and retirement are just some of the main contributors to feeling lonely, and often the feelings can arise quite unexpectedly.

During the Covid pandemic, many people found themselves isolated at home without support networks or their usual schedules to follow, and so coping with loneliness became increasingly difficult. It’s also common for these feelings to intensify around the Christmas period where there are expectations and “perfect scenes” of spending time with family and friends.

The Campaign to End Loneliness believes that “people of all ages need connections that matter.”, They estimate there to be nine million people in the UK alone who lack vital friendship and support, so they work to provide research and key evidence to policymakers and other key organizations.

A few years back, they also undertook the Loneliness project, where a young man spent a week entirely on his own, without any connection to the world. We really recommend watching his video diaries and his chat with an older gentleman at the end to discuss his experiences and unexpected difficulties.

Unicef Christmas gifts

Unicef Christmas Gifts
Photo Credit: Unicef

Unnecessary waste is something that we’re all becoming increasingly horrified by. And yet, Christmas is often a time where we buy things for the sake of it. 

So if you’re looking to do something different this year, Unicef has some lovely alternative ideas for Christmas gifts on their website, including measles vaccinations, winter clothes, and warm blankets for those in need. We liked the Paddington Bear Parcels; you get to pick five small presents that go into a virtual “box” and get sent to children in need. You can send a personalized e-card to the receiver to advise them that they have received an “alternative” gift.

If, on the other hand, you’re looking to buy a physical gift that supports a good cause, then the UNICEF Market sells jewelry and fashion on their website, all of which “benefit UNICEF's programs that provide lifesaving nutrition, medicine, education, clean water, emergency relief and more to children in danger,” so at least you know your money is going towards something worthwhile.

Related: Elsewhere in the mission to reduce waste, a simple thing you can do this Christmas is to purchase gifts ethically and with minimal or zero waste. For inspiration and our curated picks, check out our zero waste & ethical gift guides and tips for Christmas, everyone, him, her, kids, and teens

Small acts of kindness

It can be very easy to get caught up in the festivities of Christmas without thinking too much about those who are perhaps on their own this year or in desperate need of a friendly voice or face. Age UK supports the small acts of kindness movement to help make a difference in older people’s lives.

Some of the acts are very simple, like writing a letter to a grandparent or trying a new recipe with someone, but they can have a considerable impact. Age UK also has several additional ways of getting involved, including the jingle bakes cake sale and the page-turner book club.

If you like the idea of the small acts of kindness, then try exploring the 50 kindness ideas for random acts of kindness. We loved “leave a note on someone’s car telling them how awesome they parked” and “send a positive text message to five different people right now.”

Helping others makes us happy

Finishing up with something a little different, we thought we’d share this Ted Talk on “Helping others makes us happy - but it matters how we do it.” Social psychologist Elizabeth Dunn researches what makes us happy and why we get that warm glow from giving. 

Often we are compelled to donate after receiving a leaflet through the door or seeing an advert on TV. Yet, evidently, the human brain hasn’t evolved to comprehend negative headlines fully, so we can sometimes feel distanced from the negative stats and figures we see in the news, which in turn distances us emotionally from the donations we make.

Dunn talks about how it can be important for giving to create connections and make a change, which is why the Canadian Groups of Five initiative is pretty special. 

The concept involves “five or more Canadian citizens or permanent residents who have arranged to sponsor a refugee living abroad to come to Canada,” The good news is that Australia and the UK are due to set up similar programs. It offers people the chance to fully engage with the refugee families via a very hands-on approach, including welcoming them at the airport and helping them to set up home.

We thought we’d finish with one of Dunn’s quotes as food for thought: "Let's stop thinking about giving as just this moral obligation and start thinking of it as a source of pleasure.”

For more quotes about giving back, click here

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Sam produces our regular #TRVSTLOVES where she seeks out inspiration, news, and ideas from across the globe that both highlight and celebrate how actions can make for social and environmental change.

Sam is passionate about seeking out small businesses that are implementing remarkable and exciting projects to tackle the climate crisis; she enjoys exploring how their innovation will help change the future of our world.
A degree in English Literature from the University of Southampton has given Sam the research expertise to share and contextualize stories around innovative projects, legislation, and changemakers.

Photo by Kieran White on Unsplash
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