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So, it’s mid December. Smack, bang in the middle of the festive season. Time for us all to wind down from our hectic work lives and prepare to spend some quality time eating, drinking, and being merry with the ones we love. Sounds lovely, right? Perfect, even. And it really is. I’m a huge Christmas fan, and a winter baby throughout. But this December has been a bit more serious than previous years. It feels pretty tainted. I’m sure no one needs filling in on the details, it’s been impossible to escape the General Election campaigns here in the UK over recent weeks. Like with any election, the nation has been divided, and tensions feel like they are very much nearing breaking point. Basically the opposite of how we should all be feeling at this time of the year.
Politics is becoming such a huge part of popular culture globally, with ‘celebrities’ residing in the White House, rappers promising to run for president, and outspoken mainstream journalists becoming Prime Minister. It’s inescapable, even for the average Joe with no traditional interest whatsoever in the Political landscape. I don’t want to dwell on the British political climate too much, but it has played such a big part in my life over the past month that it would be strange not to mention it on my blog. I’m more than happy to be completely transparent and say the outcome of the election was not what I hoped, and Friday 13th was well and truly miserable for me, as well as many others. However, saying that, I appreciate democracy and know that dwelling and arguing with Tories would solve a big fat nothing. I also appreciate that some people may well have voted Tory with the best intentions for the country long term. So with that, instead I turned my focus to the root of why I was feeling so deflated. What was it that worried me about the new government, and how can we do our bit to help tackle those issues?
The root of concern is for people in need. Whether that be the homeless, people with disabilities, children going through the state education system, low-income families, or people in ill-health who need the wonderful support of our National Health Service. So many people in this country need support, above and beyond those I have just mentioned, and quite frankly, are slipping through the net with the current government. It’s not enough to rely on the people in power to help anymore. We all need to do our bit as citizens to help each other out more than ever before, to make this country a better place to live, and make life easier and more enjoyable for those that are struggling.
‘How can I help?’ You might ask… Well I’m no expert, but all this tension inspired me to start researching charities and schemes to ease myself into this quite daunting world of ‘giving back’. I know it sounds weird describing all this as daunting, but there are so many charities and schemes to get involved in online and it’s mind boggling to know where to start. But the important thing is to just simply get started and try. Any help is better than no help, so I’ve jotted down a few simple bits that we can hopefully all get on board with this festive season…
#Shopforothers. I know Sainsburys have launched a #shopforothers campaign whereby you can do a food shop in-store and donate straight away after paying. With the goods going direct to local food banks. Argos are running a similar campaign for giving Toys for children this Christmas, and I think it’s just wonderful that retailers are pushing this message. So if you can afford to, please do your bit to help, even its just one toy or a fivers worth of non-perishable food, it will really make a difference to someone’s Christmas time.
“If every person shopping at any supermarket this December bought one extra item – be that a can of soup or a roll-on deodorant – over 50 million products could be donated to those in need this festive season.” – Judith Batchelar, Director of Sainsbury’s Brand
Struggling with what to get for your Secret Santa this year? Why not donate to a homeless shelter or Women’s refuge centre instead? Trading that £10 usually spent on a tacky gift that isn’t really necessary, for a pair of warm pyjamas going to a very good home at a refuge centre, is an amazing little gesture that really goes a long way. A really simple festive charity idea that most of us could fit into our lives.
Another gift you can give this festive season is your time. I’m sure you saw the viral BBC video of an elderly gentleman called Terrance who had spent Christmas alone for the past 20 years. I was in bits after watching that, and I got to thinking, if we spent less time running around worrying about Christmas shopping and buying enough material gifts for people, and actually used some of that time to spend with people who will really appreciate it, we could make a real difference to someone’s happiness. And surely that’s what this time of year is really about? It might be volunteering at your local old people’s home, popping round to visit your neighbours or lonely family members that might drift to the back of your mind throughout the rest of your hectic year.
Mission Christmas. 1 in 3 children in the UK live below the poverty line. That is a disgusting fact to learn in 2019, and something our government should be truly ashamed of, especially in a country where we currently have more billionaires than ever before. But arguing about Brexit is apparently more important than that. Mission Christmas is a campaign from Cash 4 Kids who collect toy donations to give gifts to children who would otherwise have no presents to open on Christmas Day. I know Christmas is about more than receiving gifts, but every child deserves a visit from Santa. It’s a wonderful scheme and puts smiles on the faces of so many kids in the UK.
Let me know what you’ve got planned for the festive period (& the new year!) and what your festive charity ideas are, and any plans are to give back. I could always do with more ideas myself!