A charitable Christmas gift guide
Christmas is a time of giving, but that doesn’t mean it also has to be a time of take, take, take – there are lots of present ideas out there that are perfect for those that love to give back. We’ve sourced some of the most deserving ethical and charity presents, so you can eat, drink and be merry while safe in the knowledge that you’ve bought a gift that really does keep on giving. BY POLLY HUMPHRIS
Women Supporting Women
No young woman’s life should be defined by her circumstance, and yet there are thousands of young women and girls across the UK that have been deprived of the best possible start in life. Today, around 70,000 girls are excluded from school annually, and 272,000 young women are unemployed, which is where the fantastic work of Women Supporting Women comes in. Part of the Prince’s Trust, Women Supporting Women is a community of like-minded women who are committed to helping young women and girls across the country fulfil their potential. For every £1 you can give to the Prince’s Trust, 87p goes towards changing lives of young people, and a £23 donation will buy a young woman a day of interview training in support of finding employment.
Unicef’s range of ‘Inspired Gifts’ are all real, life-saving and life-changing supplies that they deliver to children and communities around the world. Donations can start from as little as £6, which will buy 75 sachets of rehydration salts that can help save the lives of as many as 15 children suffering from dehydration, to as much as £1,500, which will provide a midwifery kit containing all of the medicines, medical supplies and sterilisation equipment for a maternity ward to support the safe delivery of 50 babies. And there are lots of options in between – donate £35 and you can supply warm winter clothing for a Syrian child, and just £10 will buy a Christmas children’s gift parcel including water purification tablets, rehydration salts, sachets of high-energy peanut paste, pencils and exercise books, helping protect children in danger and giving them the basics to learn – the perfect, educational stocking filler for your children.
Refuge opened the world’s first safe house for women and children escaping domestic violence in Chiswick, west London, back in 1971, and has led the campaign against domestic violence ever since, growing to become the country’s largest single provider of specialist domestic violence services. They help more than 4,600 women, children and men daily (at a daily cost of around £10,000), and you can help them by gifting a £50 ‘safety and independence’ parcel in a friend or family member’s name. The safety parcel includes all sorts of useful help such as support with understanding and navigating housing, welfare and legal rights, and help finding work, training or education for women who have experienced domestic violence, but wish to remain safe and independent in their own home.
Christmas must be an unbearable time for the homeless, who no doubt feel more isolated and lonely than ever over the festive period, and Centrepoint’s ‘More Than’ campaign is the ideal way to make a difference to the life of a homeless youth on behalf of your friend or family member. Just £10 can provide a hot Christmas dinner for a homeless young person to share with others in their hostel; £18 will buy a Christmas jumper, which are far from a novelty for the homeless and are essential in providing warmth, comfort and protection from harsh winter weather; and £50 will cover the cost of a Christmas hamper containing enough food to last a few weeks and a few festive treats too.
‘Present Aid’ is Christian Aid’s online charity gift shop, so when you purchase an ethical gift from there, not only will you be helping to fund the charity’s vital work to end poverty all around the world, but you can do so according to what and where matters most to you. Whether you want to buy school bags, books and biros for young kids in Bangladesh (£9), donate a sheep to a woman in Ethiopia, so she can earn enough money to start a savings group (£10), help stranded families to cook, eat and find strength together by installing a community kitchen in a refugee camp (£40), or support a rural Columbian family by providing time with a lawyer to help prevent their land from being sold off to palm oil companies (£52) – the options are endless and each is as worthy as the next.
The National Trust
Founded in 1895 by three people who thankfully understood the importance of our nation’s heritage and open spaces and wanted to preserve them, the National Trust is completely independent of government funding, so relies on membership fees, donations and legacies for its continued survival. £20 will help guard two feet of coastline for an entire year and you can help save the red squirrel from extinction for just £10, both of which you’ll receive a customisable gift certificate for. If you’d rather give someone a tangible present, buy four jars of National Trust honey and they can then buy a 320g bag of wildflower seeds to enrich pollinator habitat, or purchase three cosy polka-dot throws and you’ll enable them to build one metre of protective drystone wall.
Give your time
If you’d rather not donate money and are passionate about supporting causes more local to you, don’t forget that your time is as valuable as any financial offering. FareShare is the UK’s largest charity fighting hunger and food waste across the UK and they have a centre in Ashford, Kent, that redistributes surplus food to charities and community organisations working with disadvantaged people across the region. You can sign up to volunteer here: http://fareshare.org.uk/apply-to-volunteer-kent/.
At home, a reverse advent calendar is also a great way to give at Christmas and makes for a gentle introduction to children of the notion that some people are less fortunate than others. Every day from 1st December to 24th December, put a non-perishable food product (tins, gravy granules, grains, chocolate, noodles etc.) into a box, then when you have all 24 products collected on Christmas Eve, donate the parcel to your local food bank. Sadly, there are lots of families that will benefit from your thoughtfulness, but that will thankfully have a better Christmas as a result.
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ChariTable Bookings Signature Dish Recipe Book. The perfect gift for all foodies, this 754-page hardback book includes 365 mouthwatering main course recipes from 365 of the UK’s leading chefs. Every book purchased includes a £5 donation to a charity of your choice.