'Tis the season of goodwill: five festive volunteering ideas

28 Nov 2017
Jenny Johnson Programme Officer – UK

The winter holidays are nearly upon us and with a short break from your studies it’s a great opportunity to think about how you can help others in the community and contribute some of your time and skills to a good cause.

Volunteering is not only a great way to help others during the festive period, it’s also a chance to meet new people and get to know others through a shared activity. Why not link up with other scholars in your city or region over the winter break and volunteer together?

Here are five festive ideas to inspire you this Christmas. And if you need more inspiration, there’s also a great directory of Christmas volunteering opportunities at Do-it.org, the UK’s national volunteering database.

Whatever you do, remember to record all your volunteering hours in the Chevening Volunteering Log. Happy volunteering!

1. Dreaming of a green Christmas

Fancy planting some trees during the winter months? Trees for Cities is planning projects to plant 40,000 trees this year in more than ten cities across the UK including Leeds, Birmingham, Bradford, Nottingham, Leicester, Sunderland, Worcester, and Hull. For further information please contact kathy@treesforcities.org with your name and the city you’d like to volunteer in.

Alternatively, if you like to be beside the seaside (even in winter) then take a look at the Marine Conservation Society’s beach clean events happening up and down the country this winter, including events in Essex, Sussex, North Yorkshire, and Aberdeen.

2. Sing for a good cause

If you’re tired of hearing the same Christmas songs on repeat in the shops then head on down to a Christmas sing-along near you to raise money for local and national charitable organisation.

Sing your heart out for Heart Research UK at Sheffield train station on Thursday, 14 December; join Edinburgh-based charity Health in Mind for a sing-along on Sunday, 3 December; or get in touch with The Children’s Foundation who will be singing and shaking buckets across the North East and Cumbria this Christmas.

The Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) will also be filling train stations with song at Cannon Street, King’s Cross, and Waterloo on 4, 7 and 11 December. For further details email krista.dixon@rnib.org.uk with your name and the date you are interested in.

3. Spread some Christmas cheer

Christmas can be a lonely time for many, and lots of organisations across the country are doing their bit to help make Christmas special for everyone.

Over 11,000 people volunteered with homeless charity Crisis last Christmas and they’re looking for volunteers again this year in Edinburgh, London, Newcastle, Birmingham, and Coventry. Elderly care and housing charity Abbeyfield have opportunities across the UK to help organise activities and events for older people over the festive period.

4. All wrapped up

If you’ve always had a gift for gift-wrapping then put your skills to good use at a charity gift wrap. Many organisations are looking for volunteers to join them in shops and shopping centres across the UK to spend a few hours wrapping customers’ Christmas gifts, in exchange for a small donation to the charity.

Cancer Research Wales are wrapping gifts for shoppers in Cardiff; St Luke’s Hospice are looking for gift wrappers in Harrow, north London; or take a look at the Do-it Christmas directory for other Christmas gift-wrapping opportunities near you.

5. Elf walk

The great British winter may be cold but it also provides some fantastic scenery for a winter walk. This year the Alzheimer’s Society are running a series of sponsored elf walks in Newcastle, Birmingham, and London to raise funds to help defeat dementia. There are also opportunities to volunteer on the day and assist with the running of the events. Register with the Alzheimer’s Society to take part in the walk or volunteer as a helper on the day.