Based in: Newcastle
What they do: The People’s Kitchen help homeless and disadvantaged people by providing hot meals every day (bar Saturday), as well as giving out clothes and much-needed companionship for those who need it. They mainly operate out of their main office (the Alison Centre) but also provide outreach days across Newcastle.
Why they need you at Christmas: As the cold weather arrives, it becomes more and more important to provide care for those who need it. Warm food and clothes can be life-savers, and what better way to welcome the season of giving than by providing for those who need it most in our community. The People’s Kitchen have an Amazon wish-list of clothes they desperately need for those who use their services. This year they are also running a campaign where you can buy a hot meal for someone for £5 throughout the winter period.
Tynedale Hospice at Home
Based in: Hexham
What they do: Caring for people across Tynedale and West Northumberland, Tynedale Hospice at Home’s mission is to ease the end of life journey for patients, where and when it counts. Their dedicated nursing team delivers care for patients with incurable conditions in the comfort of their own homes.
Why they need you at Christmas: Christmas can be a challenging time when a family member is seriously ill. Tynedale Hospice at Home welcome new volunteers to alleviate the extra pressure on their Hospital Transport Service at this time, by providing lifts so that patients can access the treatment they need. The service is provided free of charge, by volunteer drivers in their own vehicles. The shorter days, colder weather and reduced public transport services over the Christmas period can make getting to hospital appointments a struggle for many. You can make a difference by providing a warm car and a friendly face. The hospice are particularly interested to hear from people in the Allendale, Bellingham and Haltwhistle areas. Volunteers are provided with a full induction and continuing support.
Safe Families for Children
Based in: Various locations across the North East
What they do: Since their start in 2013, Safe Families has spread across the UK benefitting thousands of children, offering over 4,000 respite bed nights. There are various ways to help the organisation, from supporting struggling families who don’t have a network of family or friends to rely on, to providing much-needed resources like cots, toys and food.
Why they need you at Christmas: While most children look forward to Christmas all year round, many families see the approaching holidays with increasing dread, but you can help change that. Sign up to become either a host family, family friend, or resource friend, and help make a child’s Christmas a joyful experience. It may sound like fostering, but it’s a completely voluntary basis, with no money involved between the voluntary family and the family in need of help. Being a family friend gives you the opportunity to moral support, practical help, and parenting support to families who are struggling, while a resource friend means you provide vital material items, which is very easy and rewarding.
The Children’s Foundation
Based in: Newcastle
What they do: The Children’s Foundation provides help and support for those children that other charities sometimes miss, whether they’re disadvantaged, disabled, or distressed. Last year they directly helped, involved, or affected the lives of 29,000 vulnerable children across the North East, including their work in hospitals and supporting various events and projects dealing with some of the more difficult aspects of children’s and young people’s problems.
Why they need you at Christmas: Between 13th and 24th December, The Children’s Foundation are seeking North East festive elves to help man their gift-wrapping stations in Eldon Square, Newcastle. They also need Christmas volunteers to help out with their Christmas collections and carol-singing in shopping centres across the region – singing is optional but festive attire is a must. And if you do happen to have the voice of an angel, they are still seeking choirs and singing groups.
Based in: Sunderland
What they do: Targeted at homeless young people aged 16–25 in the city of Sunderland, Centrepoint provides accommodation, health support and the essential life skills needed to get them back into education, training and employment. Following the legacy of his mother Princess Diana’s work with the charity, HRH The Duke of Cambridge has been a CentrePoint patron since 2005.
Why they need you at Christmas: At a time that is so inherently focused on the home and spending time with family, being homeless at Christmas takes on a heightened sense of meaning for many young homeless people across the region. For just £12 a month, you can help a young person leave behind homelessness for good by sponsoring a room, providing a warm, safe place for young people to escape the harsh realities of sleeping rough, especially at this time of year.
Based in: Newcastle and Northumberland
What they Do: This charity provides two sources of that warm, fuzzy feeling. Firstly, you get to help animals in need and secondly you get to care for a pet temporarily. By becoming a foster carer for Helping Pets, you will sign up to look after either a cat, dog, or a smaller animal that would have nowhere else to go. The animals stay in your care for either a few days or a few months until they find a permanent adoption home (which could be yours if you fall in love with your furry friend), with all food, litter and vet bills catered for.
Why they need you at Christmas: Consider becoming a foster carer – once you get through the vetting (no pun intended) process you you become a part of the system straight away and will start caring for your temporary pet in no time. The period directly after Christmas is such a busy time for animal charities, so signing up at Christmas is ideal. Of course, if you can’t foster, you can still donate anything you can to continue the project.
Based in: Newcastle & Sunderland
What they do: Action Foundation are an award-winning charity who provide destitute asylum seekers with temporary accommodation. A community-based organisation, they aim to overcome the exclusion that asylum seekers, migrants and refugees may be feeling in the Tyne and Wear area. They provide opportunities for asylum seekers to lead safe, independent and fulfilled lives, through supported accommodation, free English lessons and employment classes.
Why they need you at Christmas: Although Action Foundation have already provided over 2,500 nights of safe accommodation for asylum seekers, they are always looking for new hosts, especially over the Christmas period which can be a difficult time for many. They are actively searching for volunteer hosts, and full training is provided, as well as full support throughout to ensure that the experience is a positive one for both parties. If you’ve got a spare bedroom, why not consider providing a safe space this Christmas for someone who desperately needs it.
Based in: Chester-le-Street
What they do: The Durham branch of The Real Junk Food projects aims to provide food to those who need it while cutting down on food waste by intercepting and using perfectly good food destined for landfill. They operate a ‘pay as you feel’ scheme, so customers can pay with whatever cash they can afford, or with their time or skills, meaning people have an alternative to going hungry. They encourage everybody to stop by though, as they hope to raise awareness about the environmental impact of food waste.
Why they need you at Christmas: Why not give the ultimate gift on Christmas day: your time. Christmas dinner is something we all look forward to, but for some, it is not on the cards. Thankfully, REfUSE are hosting a huge Christmas dinner on Christmas Day and welcome volunteers to provide help on the day. The more the merrier, so join the team on this festive occasion to eat, drink and be merry.
Age UK Northumberland
Based in: Northumberland
What they do: Age UK Northumberland is dedicated to tackling social isolation among elderly people, with numerous initiatives throughout the year to combat loneliness among the older generation. They’ve had huge success with schemes like the The Friendship Line, where they set up volunteers with an older person for weekly chats to help keep loneliness at bay and forge meaningful friendships.
Why they need you at Christmas: Christmas can be an incredibly difficult time for elderly people with no ties to friends or family. But you can help make a difference. Age UK believe no one should have no one all year round, but especially at Christmas, so they encourage you to take an active role in your community, to make sure no one has to face Christmas Day alone. Businesses and community groups can also take part in their Christmas Tree Festival, by decorating a tree and helping raise funds towards combatting loneliness among older people in Northumberland.
Daisy Chain Project
Based in: Stockton-on-Tees
What they do: Since it was founded in 2003, Daisy Chain has supported 2,129 families, providing a haven for families with children and adults who are currently diagnosed with autism or undergoing the diagnostic process across the Tees Valley, Daisy Chain is a space that is specifically designed to accommodate their needs. The charity also works to provide parents, carers and siblings with a mutual support network and resource library.
Why they need you at Christmas: Whether it’s that dusty Christmas jumper from your great-aunt or a full red suit that would give even Mr Claus a run for his money, this year Daisy Chain are calling on you to dig out your favourite Christmas clothing in aid of their Wear It Festive campaign on Friday 7th December 2018. Regardless of whether you’re a local business, community group or a group of friends, it couldn’t be easier to get involved – simply don a festive outfit of your choice and make a donation to Daisy Chain. Don’t forget to update your social media with the hashtag #WearItFestive so that the Daisy Chain team can see your festive themed attire in all its glory.
Northumbrian Hedgehog Rescue Trust
Based in: Northumberland
What they do: The Northumbrian Hedgehog Rescue Trust is dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating and caring for sick or injured hedgehogs, with the ultimate goal of reintroducing them into the wild or protected sites. Their volunteers work at the centre 365 days a year, as our prickly little friends require their help whether it’s Christmas Day or not. Hedgehog care becomes even more fundamental during the winter months, as they can often be at risk during their hibernation period.
Why they need you at Christmas: As well as caring for them, the Trust wants to educate the public on the treatment, nursing, and conservation of hedgehogs, so that they’re around for generations to come. Although you can’t visit the hedgehogs in the centre for their welfare, their advice is invaluable for looking after hedgehogs before their hibernation. As the weather gets colder, hedgehogs will be looking for extra food to gain their winter fat reserves – leave out bowls of dog or cat food (not fish-based) at dusk to help them gain weight, as they need to be at least 600g to survive hibernation. When you do your winter garden tidy-up, leave a few places ‘wild’, with piles of dead leaves to provide cosy nests for the hedgehogs. If you come across a hedgehog in the garden during the day, it will likely need help as they are nocturnal – check the Trust’s website for drop-in hours.
Based in: Howdon
What they do: Family Gateway work across North Tyneside, South Tyneside and parts of Northumberland in the areas of highest deprivation and where children’s life chances are lowest. They help families to tackle issues such as debt, addiction and unemployment by proving a ‘Family Entrepreneur’, a trained support worker who has often overcome poverty themselves.
Why they need you at Christmas: The build-up to Christmas is a stressful time for low-income families, as they struggle with letters to Santa that they can’t satisfy. Family Gateway provides tailored support for each family to help them cope with the cost and potential stress of Christmas. They pledge to provide a Christmas gift for every child in every family they support, a huge undertaking and they need your help. They are urgently asking for donations of gifts and also artificial Christmas trees and decorations to help bring some festive cheer to hundreds of local children and families. They also welcome volunteers to help sort and wrap donations, so you can be directly involved in making a difference to a family this Christmas.