It’s that time of year again when people start to think about giving and helping. They always say that charity begins at home, and this means that you should help out those who are close to you, your family is a good start, but then your local community is the next place to see where you can help out and give back. Not only will it help those in need, but it will also make you feel good.
It’s fair to say that at this time of year most people overindulge, they over-buy and a lot of food is either wasted or even if it does get eaten it’s only the result of greed and over-indulging. Over the festive period, you could make a big difference in your community by taking extra food to charities that help to feed the homeless, or you could do some basic food prep in a soup kitchen. Also, this doesn’t have to be limited to this time of year; there are people who always need food.
Volunteering your time, energy, and skills to just about anything in your local community is a great way to support it and give back. It could be a hospital, youth group, senior’s home, reading to local school children, or helping out at an animal shelter. There are loads of local organisations that would benefit from your time. If you enjoy interacting with people or want to get some customer service experience, then see if your local charity shop has any vacancies. Look for things that you’re interested in, things you have done before, things you are good at, or things that you would like to try. You never know, it might be the start of a new career path for you.
As well as benefits for the community, volunteering can be an excellent way to beat loneliness or to do something meaningful and satisfying.
If you’re a green-fingered sort of person and enjoy a spot of gardening, then you could either help out with any community gardens or if you have noticed a garden in your local area that looks like it could do with a bit of work, then perhaps offer your services to the people who live there. They could be elderly or ill and unable to tend to their garden anymore, or they could be young parents who don’t have the time or lack the skills, and they might be very glad of the help.
If you’re good with your hands and can do things like general maintenance, constructing furniture and fencing, or even a more substantial project like a building, you could offer to help out anywhere. Do you live somewhere quite isolated, or is there somewhere you know of where people need a bit more of a hand with their homes and general maintenance? These kinds of jobs may take a bit more time and effort than other ways to help out the community, for example, you might find yourself researching “what is the best submersible well pump?” or “how to build a bird table.” Still, if you have the time and the skills, then it can be something nice to do for those in need.
Small things like litter picking and gardening can help to make your local area a more beautiful place to live for everyone. If you spot more significant issues in your community – like graffiti, fly-tipping, fly-posting, potholes, or abandoned cars – you can use Love Clean Streets to report it to your local authority and get it sorted out. And you can also organise a clean-up yourself. Otherwise, it’s effortless for you to take a garbage bag while walking through the streets and pick up any litter along the way – it’s an excellent way to get some exercise too.
Helping the community doesn’t have to mean donating time or money, charities can benefit from your unwanted possessions too. Consider giving unwanted clothing, jewellery, technology, books, and homeware to charity shops. The British Heart Foundation – who raise money to fund research into cures and treatments for heart and circulatory diseases – even offer to collect items like these for free. This time of year as well it’s an excellent idea to donate toys for children who don’t get Christmas presents.
Charities increasingly recognise the value of photos to help tell their story and drive supporters. You could capture some photos at local events, or take pictures of animals that arrive at your community’s re-homing centre. It’s an excellent opportunity to build up your portfolio, too.
Having a clean driving license and your own transport can be very beneficial to a charity, but it can also be of real use to your neighbour too. Offering a lift to their hospital appointment or taking them to do their weekly shop.
Did you know that with just one donation, you can save many lives? But at the same time, just one patient could need multiple donors. For heart surgery, a patient needs up to five donors and Leukaemia treatments, need as many as eight donors a week. Every blood donation makes a difference in someone’s life, and what more fabulous gift could you give? Plus, they’ll give you free food and drink too.
Support local businesses
Local businesses are an essential part of local communities that are always under pressure from bigger national and multi-national competitors. The best way to support local businesses is to spend money with them. Also, make sure others do too, tell your friends and family about your favorite local businesses, follow and support them on social media, and leave positive reviews too. This will also save you time and money as well as invests in your community.
Support Local Events
Attend local festivals, theatre productions, fetes, or sports events. Whatever’s going on, show your support. Many have free admission and activities anyway, and you could also see if your boss would sponsor the event.
Attend Community Meetings
Community meetings are not only a really good place to meet people from your local area, but they also allow you to develop a more in-depth familiarity with your community and are a great way to build feelings of belonging and ownership. You’ll know about what’s going on and get to have your say too.
Elections happen every year. Check out the candidates for local elections and have your say on what goes on.