Giving back this Christmas

How do you envisage yourself spending Christmas Day? Probably the annual sequence of presents, chocolate for breakfast, stuff face with pigs in blankets, socialise with tipsy relatives, consume full box of celebrations, cold turkey sandwiches, final mince pie, ending with the Doctor Who Christmas Special.

Yet, I can hear your inner conscience screaming “since when did this debauchery and hedonistic consumerism become the meaning of Christmas?!”

So why not put your inner sense of morals at rest this year and instead of filling your gut with gravy, feed your soul by volunteering to help someone less fortunate than you at one of the hardest times of the year.

Most likely, your overindulgence is planned to take place in your warm home, decked with the tackiest of tinsel and Michael Bublé’s festive voice crooning in the background. If so, it can be easy to forget that some people won’t have a home to go to this Christmas.

Last year in Scotland 28,247 applications were assessed as homeless. For this reason, organisations such as Crisis are in need of volunteers to help create companionship and deliver vital services to people over the festive season.

Volunteering at Crisis could be the perfect opportunity for those who will be far from their own homes this Christmas. In joining a family of volunteers, you will be immersed in a festive environment filled with friendly faces, all whilst helping others.  As Jenny Whyte from Crisis at Christmas told The Student: “There is a wonderful atmosphere around the event. New volunteers are often apprehensive about what the day will be like, and who they’ll be working with, but are pleasantly surprised by how relaxed and fun their day is and the range of interesting people they’ve met.”

Although an essential role, Crisis at Christmas aren’t just looking for volunteers to provide a warm meal on Christmas Day, but also for people to provide a warm and friendly atmosphere by chatting to guests and encouraging them to take part in games and activities. Crisis offers all new volunteers an induction session to find out about the organisation and learn more about what the role includes.

From hair and beauty, to being part of the welcome team, there are volunteer roles suited to everyone’s skills and abilities. If you have a talent to share, you can volunteer to lead a fun and relaxed workshop, or even provide the entertainment.

Volunteers also aren’t just needed to help on Christmas Day, but also around the festive period (and all year long). There are opportunities to help set up the Crisis Christmas centre with festive decorations, man stalls or do collections throughout December, as well as an endless amount of ways to fundraise yourself.

By raising only £26.08, you can provide a place for someone who is homeless at Crisis’ Christmas event. The event not only provides a Christmas dinner, but also clean clothes, health checks, expert mental health assistance and year-round support to offer a way out of homelessness. Before you go and splash out on the Zoella advent calendar, consider the fact that for the same price you could change the lives of two people.

There are many volunteering opportunities across the UK, with thousands of ways to help in Edinburgh alone. It’s not only homeless shelters in need of volunteers this Christmas, all sorts of charities will be organising events throughout December to raise money for those who are less fortunate.

Charities will be looking for budding Mary Berry’s to whip up a festive bake stall, or avid carollers to bless people’s ears with their most riveting rendition of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. Charities will usually provide an official donations box for those who are keen to put their skills to good use.

As Christmas fast approaches, it’s time to practice your ‘tralalalas’ for a carol concert or don your Santa costume for a festive sponsored walk. Break the gluttonous cycle this year and give something back by picking up an application to make a difference this Christmas.

If you want to discover more about getting involved, go to: edinburgh/

image: @ansomarry via flickr

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The Student Newspaper 2016