How you can be a social action Santa!

georgiapitt 9/12/2015

It’s that time of year – the bells are jingling; the tinsel’s glistening; the turkey twizzlers are waiting to be unwrapped. The streets are buzzing with sharp-elbowed shoppers, and let’s be honest, it’s tempting to join the queues and bag some festive swag. But when the snow settles, what are you really going to remember from this Christmas? A new iPad Pro? Yawn. The new Call of Duty? Pl-ease. This festive season, why not give someone a gift that’s even better than a PlayStation 4 – the gift of giving!

We hear ya – no one thunders down the stairs on Christmas day and empties their stocking in the hope of finding a lump of ethically-procured, organic coal. But you know what? There’s nothing wrong with buying shiny new gifts whilst being a social action Santa!

Here’s a few ideas for channelling the NCS spirit and giving something truly priceless this Christmas. Yule never forget it.

Volunteer at a drop-in centre

As we all know, the cold weather makes this time of year particularly hard for rough sleepers. To put things in perspective, it’s believed that more than 100 homeless and vulnerable people live at Heathrow Airport over the winter period. There are some fantastic organisations dedicated to supporting those who struggle to support themselves, and Christmas is an ideal time of year to give them a helping hand.

Manchester-based Lifeshare hosts a drop-in service staffed by volunteers; they run an ‘open house’ for six days over Christmas where visitors can enjoy a cooked breakfast, a hot evening meal, tea, coffee, medical care, live entertainment and a cheeky game of table tennis! Even if you can’t make it down, there are loads of items you can donate such as food, clothing, books and toiletries. Go spread the Christmas cheer!

Spend some time with a neighbour

Whilst Christmas is a time of happiness for many, sadly that’s not the case for everyone. Last year, a BBC poll found that 4 million people in the UK spent Christmas Day alone; many are housebound elderly people lacking social support and can suffer from loneliness. So if you know someone in your community who’d appreciate a chat, or maybe some food and drink, always remember that a little gesture of goodwill goes a long way!

You could even go further and host a Christmas lunch for the community. One fantastic charity, Contact the Elderly, runs monthly tea parties for small groups of elderly people, offering “care, compassion and a cuppa”. And of course, Age UK provides valuable support for the elderly at Christmas – there’s loads you can do if you fancy tackling loneliness and social isolation this festive period.

Buy a goat!

How many times have you woken up on Christmas Day and received an African mountain goat? Not many, we’d wager. An Oxfam goat makes a cool and generous Christmas gift, supplying a family in the developing world with a source of milk to drink or sell. Alternatively, you can purchase fresh water, hygiene kits, allotment tools, or even a whole farmyard!

As every NCSer knows, doing good feels good, and this Christmas is a great chance to indulge your inner social action Santa. Why not get together with some NCS grads and show the world how it’s done?