‘Tis the season of giving, and unfortunately, the need to do so is greater than ever this year. While these local charities in Wales will appreciate your help all year round, Hannah Collins and Jonathan Swain encourage you to consider them this Christmas if you’re looking to donate time and money to a local cause rather than buy gifts and cards.
Pembrokeshire Action To Combat Hardship is a grassroots organisation providing relief aid in the southwest of Wales, including food, clothing, toiletries, cleaning products, sanitary products and pet food. Their annual toy appeal is returning this year, for which you can drop off unwanted items to be recycled as Christmas presents at dropoff points all over Pembrokeshire. They also have a JustGiving page that’s open for monetary donations all year round, FYI.
MAKE A SMILE
Beginning as a Cardiff University students’ society in 2017, Make A Smile is now a pretty large operation in Wales, founded to bring young hospital patients a little joy by sending people in fancy dress into wards. Now, it’s not just Spider-Men and Disney Princesses paying visits to sick children – Make A Smile offers a range of activities, from singing to read-a-longs and online visits, and has extended its target demographic to the elderly. Get involved by volunteering or taking part in one of their many fundraising events, from bake sales and fun runs to karaoke.
We’ve mentioned this Caerphilly-based CIC before but you can never plug a good thing too much, eh? I’ll let their founder, GP James Morgan, give you the deets: “We take in unwanted toys and gift good quality toys to families and organisations in need within Caerphilly and surrounding areas. We do this all year round but things really ramp up at Christmas! We have gifted toys to thousands of children and over 40 schools and community groups. I am very lucky to have amazing volunteers to help process donations and requests and an even better community which continues to donate amazing toys to us.”
BARRY SANTA SLEIGH
Having begun in 1973, Barry’s annual Santa Sleigh is run by Round Table, which focuses on engaging men aged 18-45 in social activities. This festive tour of the town has gone from a bit of fun to a major fundraising project for the group, with members of the public able to donate money (physically or digitally) to a Santa at designated residential and commercial stopoffs. You can track the route via Google Maps and Facebook via their website, linked below.
MY DISCOMBOBULATED BRAIN
Founded by entrepreneur Laura Jane Dernie, whose life was affected by the suicide of a close friend at a young age, My Discombobulated Brain is dedicated to ending the stigma around mental health conversations. They’ve recently launched an app named MDB Help, directing people suffering sudden mental health crises to safe spaces and immediate support at their nearest location. Help them out by spreading the word, becoming a partner, or fundraising/donating.
Carmarthenshire theatre company Living Pictures was set up at the turn of the millennium by Elen and Rob Bowman to foster creative, inclusive and environmentally-embedded spaces for all. Its Coed Dylan project – which takes its name from the couple’s son and namesake, Dylan Thomas’ poem Fernhill – is 4.5 acres of green space purchased in 2014, renovated to become a “biodiverse” place for people to enjoy off-the-beaten track. Currently, they’re busy turning shipping containers into wet weather havens and building a Garden Gym – a “therapeutic horticulture project” – with funding from Project Sylfaen, and encouraging people to get involved.
LLAMAU’S SECRET SANTA APPEAL
This December, Llamau’s Secret Santa Appeal highlights the needs of young people and women experiencing homelessness. It’s not just the absence of a roof over your head: it’s missing out on so many of the Christmas experiences most of us take for granted, like festive feasting or having our loved ones close. For many in that situation, a gift from Llamau will be the only one they will receive this Christmas.
A donation of £10 could buy two young people selection boxes, while £30 could mean a Christmas lunch with all the trimmings. £150 buys presents for ten survivors of domestic abuse, a powerful seasonal reminder that they are not alone.
As the reality of the cost of living crisis begins to bite, one in four people in Wales fear they will become homeless within a year, so Shelter Cymru have a clear fundraising message: ‘Home Is Everything: Help Us Protect It.’
It’s a stark warning: in the last year, Wales has seen the highest rent rises in the UK outside London, while housing benefits have failed to keep up. Energy costs are spiralling and many rely on food banks, with many in employment also struggling to keep a roof over their heads. There’s never been a more urgent time to fundraise, volunteer for them, or get involved in one of their ongoing campaigns.
THE WALLICH WINTER RAFFLE
The Wallich, one of the country’s leading organisations combating the issue of homelessness, is running a fundraising Winter Raffle this year. The long list of prizes include a three-course meal and cocktails for two at Marco Pierre White’s London Steakhouse and a trip to the top of The Shard; a £150 Love2Shop voucher; Afternoon Tea for two at Ceredigion’s Plas Nanteos Mansion, and many more. It closes on Monday 16 Jan 2023 and tickets start from just £2.
One book of tickets (£10) could pay for an emergency winter fuel top up to help people experiencing cold homes, and four books (£40) could provide two weeks’ worth of basic food shopping so individuals and families don’t have to choose between eating or heating this winter.
words HANNAH COLLINS + JONATHAN SWAIN
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