Volunteering over the Christmas period

AFS Team·20 December 2016·4 min read
Volunteering over the Christmas period

Across the UK, thousands of people give up a few hours every Christmas to help those less fortunate than themselves.

Regardless of whether you’re a regular volunteer, or if you’re a total newbie, there’s volunteering opportunities for everyone.


If you’re time poor, just picking up some extra food on your Christmas shop to donate to one of the foodbanks, used over a million times in the last financial year. With rising numbers of families living on the poverty line, it’s estimated that more than eight million people in Britain struggle to put food on the table.

Anyone can donate to a foodbank, with most cities having several and increasing numbers of towns. Check with your local foodbank to see what supplies they’re most in need of before donating, but typically, non-perishable foods like pasta, tinned vegetables and fruit, cereal make up food parcels.  

Volunteering on Christmas Day

Homeless charity Crisis regularly has 10,000 volunteers which help over 4,000 homeless people across the country every Christmas. With initiatives in London, Birmingham, Coventry, Edinburgh and Newcastle, volunteer roles vary from dishing up Christmas dinner, to running feel good activities to spread some festive cheers.

University of Exeter student Jessica Hughes, volunteers at a homeless shelter every Christmas, and told Student Life Guide that volunteering with the homeless “is an incredible experience.”

“It's such a life changing experience for the volunteer and the guests at the drop in. It makes me feel incredibly humble because I'm able to help others and recognise how lucky I am. Gratitude is such an important aspect of life, we spend far too much time thinking of what we want - the next iPhone, those new trainers etc and don't spend enough time being grateful for all that we have, but when you spend time with people who have absolutely nothing and they're thankful that you've given up a few hours of your day, it really put things into perspective.”

Students you know might even be rootless this Christmas. With flights home expensive, many international students can’t afford to travel home for the holiday season, and so face spending Christmas alone. Use website HostUK to offer a home to an international student over Christmas. 

Help the elderly

It’s estimated that over 500,000 older people spend Christmas alone. Through charity Community at Christmas, volunteers can run their own Christmas event for the elderly- anything from a film screening, to offering a spare seat at your dinner table to a local older person. You could even pop round for a quick afternoon tea and a chat- anything to help them feel less alone.

If you’re time poor, but still want to help, you can donate to Age UK’s Christmas appeal or The Salvation Army’s older people appeal.

By Susannah Keogh