Written by Emily Fox
Featured Image by Dan Burton on Unsplash

Each one of us has the power to make a difference, so let’s be the change we want to see this Christmas. Taking action is crucial if we want to help the vulnerable, here’s how you can help:

1. Drop off your coat

With the winter weather soon to set in, thousands of homeless people will be at further risk on the streets. The Wrap Up campaign is back for the 5th year running, in partnership with Hands On London, to spread warmth in major cities including Leicester, Birmingham and Manchester.  Donating a coat that no longer fits you or you have a coat to spare, you could save someone’s life. Wrap Up will rehome your coat to charities that support the homeless, refugees, children living in poverty and people fleeing domestic violence.

Now is your chance to give it to someone who really needs it between 9th – 22nd November 2020. The nearest drop off points are at Safestore Leicester.  We understand that you may be still too attached to your winter coat. You can show your warmth in other ways by donating £3 to help someone less fortunate instead.

Photo Credit: Nick Fewins on Unsplash

2. Donate to Action Homeless

During lockdown, Action Homeless helped provide close to one million meals for local families in Leicester. Based in the city centre, The Food Stop, provides emergency food provisions for those in crisis situations. You can support them by donating products from their wishlist.

These include:

  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Noodles
  • Couscous
  • Pulses
  • Tinned goods; veg, fruit, meat, fish
  • Pasta sauce, tinned tomatoes 
  • Cereal
  • UHT milk (1L)
  • Tea, coffee, sugar
  • Cooking oil (1L)
  • Men’s and women’s toiletries

You can also support the charity by purchasing clothes from their Depop shop. All money raised through this is then used to buy any urgent essentials.

3. Support other young people from the Y

The Y provides supported accommodation to 102 young people who have experienced homelessness, family breakdowns or trauma.  60% of the 16 – 25 year-olds that come to live at The Y are not in education, employment or training. Lockdown has increased anxiety, isolation and mental health issues that have negatively impacted their progress at a vulnerable time in their lives.  Our young residents have concerns about finding permanent housing and are badly under-prepared for the world of work.

Have your donation doubled when you support Leicester YMCA’s Big Give Christmas Challenge between 1st– 8th December 2020. This exciting learning programme gives formerly homeless young people living at The Y the chance to develop their skills, creativity and resilience for the tough road ahead. Given the current situation, the Y are encouraging supporters to donate online this year.

The Y Charity Video

4. Participate in your local supermarket food collection

Most major supermarkets have boxes you can put food items in to help the homeless in your local community. This means you don’t need to make a special trip to a collection point to a local foodbank distribution centre. Simply visit your local Tesco store between 19th – 21st November, pick up a shopping list at the front of the store, and donate an item or two. Find your participating local store here.

All food donated is used locally and is an invaluable boost to food banks’ stocks at a time of year that is always extremely busy and when demand for emergency food is high. Every small action can have a big impact!

5. Be a Good Neighbour

DMU Local are looking for volunteers to be Good Neighbours to safely offer support to students living in halls of residence during the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether it’s practical help such as doing someone’s shopping, raising awareness of DMUs support services or being a listening ear, the programme aims to become a support community for students. 

All volunteers will be fully trained and will provide any information you may need. There will be two virtual briefing sessions for volunteers, on Wednesday 21 and Friday 23 October at 2pm. If you don’t live in halls, you are also encouraged to apply. This opportunity will enable you to gain some transferable skills for your CV such as communication and time management. To register, email local@dmu.ac.uk or sign up via MyGateway

Acting now is vital to ensure that everyone has nutritious food, somewhere safe, warm and a roof over their head during these tough, cold winter months.