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by Helen Bowman

Our region is brimming with amazing charities and charitable organisations which help people in all walks of life. The one thing they all have in common is the need for help from volunteers.

Giving time at Christmas (and at other times of the year), not only benefits the organisations you’re working with but can help you in several ways too.

From relieving stress, anxiety and depression to providing a sense of purpose and helping you form new relationships, the benefits of giving your time can be enormous. And there are so many opportunities to reach out and help people in your local area. Here are just a few ideas of the organisations that might appreciate your time:

  • Community theatres
  • Museums
  • Libraries
  • Churches
  • Local animal shelters or wildlife centres
  • Youth organisations, sports teams
  • Hospitals and hospices

We’ve spoken to some charity organisations in the North East to find out how we could all help by giving a little bit of our time around Christmas and into the new year.

Sunderland Foodbank

Food banks all over the region are working in their busiest spell of the year, right now. Helping families and individuals in their gravest need, our regional food banks provide much-needed sustenance and nutrition to the people of the North East.

Volunteers are the very lifeblood of organisations like these and organisers would genuinely appreciate any help you can give. From volunteering in the warehouse and coordinating the crucial vouchers with various outlets, to giving out food parcels at the food bank centres and editing the website, the opportunities to give your time are plenty.

Visit the website for more information or search for your local food bank online.

www.sunderland.foodbank.org.uk

Children’s Foundation in Newcastle

The Children’s Foundation helps children that other charities don’t reach. The Foundation supports and manages several projects across the North East. The projects vary across a broad spectrum of activities, particularly those that deal with some of the more difficult areas of children’s and young people’s problems – such as disability, disadvantage and mental health issues.

The Foundation is always looking for volunteers, and at Christmas, there are some particularly festive opportunities such as wrapping Christmas presents or singing Christmas Carols to raise money for the charity.

There’s more information on their website, here: www.thechildrensfoundation.co.uk/get-involved

Catalyst – Stockton on Tees

Catalyst is an organisation that works to find volunteers for organisations across Teesside. The team works with Stockton Borough Council to match up the skills of volunteers with the needs of charitable organisations in the area.

Find out more information on Catalyst’s website: www.catalyststockton.org/volunteering

Community Action Northumberland

CAN work with rural communities in Northumberland to support, empower and promote the areas and the people within. The organisation is frequently looking for volunteers to work within projects and the services they provide.

Find out about the roles available on a voluntary basis, here: www.ca-north.org.uk/support-us

Oasis Community Housing – Gateshead

Every year, Oasis Community Housing supports up to 2,000 people who want to leave homelessness behind through several projects in the North East. This Christmas they are aiming to reach even more people sleeping rough as the temperatures plummet.

Find out how you can help: www.oasiscommunityhousing.org/what-you-can-do

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