It’s so easy over Christmas to get distracted with thoughts of rich food, oodles of booze and presents galore.
And it’s really easy to forget that there are those who are less fortunate than yourself, than your family, in having a roof over your head, money in the bank, food in the cupboard. One change in circumstance in some cases is all it takes to change everything.
Less than 2 years ago, my sister became homeless, with my nephew, living in emergency accommodation, trying to explain to a 3 year old that there was no TV because they were on holiday.
All because of a relationship breakdown.
Though she approached local authorities for help, it was slow, painfully so. Information was scarce and trying to find out what to do and who to go to was hard work. She was working, my nephew was being cared for, but she didn’t have a roof over her head. Family helped where we could, but we were limited for space – I could feed them, but had no room to put them up.
Now, she has a home, her career is progressing, my nephew is happy and things are good. But there are still others out there in the same situation.
So, on a purely selfish level, I’m going to be donating bits and pieces to various charities over Christmas. Buying an extra tin of soup, box of teabags, can of beans. Little things like this can make the difference between a family eating a meal, having enough food to make it to work the next day, or even make it out of the house.
If you, like me fancy giving a little extra, for instance, buying an extra can of soup when you’re shopping, giving away the free item from the BOGOF offer, or just putting back one bottle of wine from the shelf and buying something for someone else, then here’s how you can help – all via some of the incredible organisations based here in the north west.
In Manchester, Barakah Food Aid have been working tirelessly to help families and individuals over the Christmas period. They’ve put together Christmas hampers, offering families everything from a Christmas tree, to wrapping paper, small gifts and food and drink. Over the last four years they’ve helped countless families in the North West and across the country through their network of helpers and volunteers. Whether homeless, or struggling on the poverty line, they don’t turn anyone away. If they can help them, they will.
They are, of course, also collecting donations of non-perishable food items and toiletries, and anything that might help a family in need. You can contact them via Twitter or Facebook if you wish to donate, or lend your time to help.
Again, in my immediate locality, there is Stretford Food Bank. There are several Food Banks across the Manchester area, but this is the closest to me in Trafford. People can donate directly at the Christian life Centre, Stretford on Tuesdays between 11am and 2pm, or St Michael’s Church in Flixton at any time. Finally, donations can be made at Stretford Library.
The Food Bank tell me they often run short of sugar, tinned meat/fish, toiletries and nappies, but all non-perishable food is welcome. A full list can be found on their site.
Coffee 4 Craig is a non-profit organisation working hard behind the scenes to help the homeless in Manchester and Cardiff. Whether it’s through soup kitchens, or helping people find accommodation, or like some of the other organisations mentioned in this post, find food, toiletries, furniture or support. They aim to break the cycle of sleeping rough and help people get their lives back on track.
They’re a fantastic link between a lot of the organisations already hard at work, and those in need, and again, are always in need of clothing, food, snacks and actively raising funds to help keep their work going. Collection points, and details of how to get involved can be found by emailing or calling them.
Mad Dogs is an initiative that helps clothe and feed the homeless in Manchester, operating out of Elliott’s Greengrocers in Chorlton. They regularly accept donations of food and clothing and blankets, so it’s easy to drop off that pair of socks your mum gave you that you really don’t need.
Over in Salford, St Pauls are collecting toys and putting together food hampers too.
Changing Lives on Ur Doorstep is another fantastic organisation run via Facebook. Anyone can donate items, offer them up for someone else to collect and use. It’s a great way to help a family furnish a new home, or help a new mum in need of baby clothes.
Lifeshare also aims to break the cycle of homelessness and as well as their regular weekend breakfast services throughout the year, over the Christmas period, they offer a drop in centre at the Charter St Ragged School on Dantzic St in Ancoats. Operating from 8am to 8pm, it aims to offer everything from someone to talk to, to clothes, and food. Donations are welcome and details of how to donate or volunteer can be found on their website.
The Wellspring in Stockport offers a similar service to our neighbours in Cheshire.This year they are running the Rucksack Project, which asks for donations of rucksacks filled with particular items from socks to a flashlight, so that they can give them to the homeless over the winter. This means that as well as the centre offering an ear, a warm place and a cup of tea, the rucksack is something that can be given direct and taken away.
Emmelines Pantry offers help to women and their families in Manchester. Often women can find themselves the sole carers for children in straightened circumstances. Over the last year they’ve seen their referrals grown from 58 in 2013 to 163 referrals for food and toys this year. If you can help by donating gifts or food items, they can be contacted via Facebook.
And though, there are many more charities to mention (I’ve listed some more links below and will continue to update the list), for those of you in Liverpool, this donation opportunity has reached my ears.
Donations of non-perishable food items or gifts (for any age) can be dropped off at the Wall to Wall, gallery located within Metquarter.
So, while you’re doing the Christmas shopping, or putting in that order to Asda, add an extra can, box or packet.
You never know whose Christmas you’ll be making that little bit better.