If you’re looking for local projects helping people experiencing tough times this Christmas, we’ve got some ideas!
Food banks, baby banks, coat-donation schemes, a winter toy appeal for children in poverty, a hygiene bank, women’s refuge, night shelter – a whole host of agencies and charities work tirelessly in Hackney to support people in need.
If, like us, Christmas focuses the mind and spurs a desire to help, there are a number of options locally.
1. Donate to Hackney Foodbank.
Location Location on Stoke Newington Church St is a permanent drop off point for the food bank. You can donate non-perishable food (tins and packets), long-life juice and UHT milk throughout the year here. The food bank is also keen to hear from organisations or community groups willing to put together festive hampers with treats for their visitors. They're also collecting vouchers for teenagers as gifts this Christmas and urging the public to donate.
Better yet, visit their website and set up a direct debit – pledging a monthly amount to support people in need.
2. Purge your wardrobe for any old winter coats (children’s and adults) and drop them at Stoke Newington Library. This Kind Coats Library offers a rail where people who are struggling with the cost of living can pick up a coat for free.
3. Beaucatcher on Church St is holding a Christmas collection for the Solace Women’s Aid Refuge. Please drop in gifts for mothers and children who are fleeing domestic violence and festive non-perishable food treats. Last day to donate: December 18.
4. Donate a new toy to the Winter Toy Appeal for a child in poverty. Run by Jenna and Basil Fansa of the Local Buyers Club, in partnership with Location Location and the Hackney Children and Baby Bank, this toy appeal has been providing new gifts for thousands of children experiencing hardship for nine years. There’s a wish list with Stoke Newington Toys and Books or you can donate to their Just Giving page (with all funds used to buy from independent toy shops). December 15th is the last day to donate.
5. Help Hackney Night Shelter with their move to a new home. In January the night shelter is moving from its home in Stoke Newington to Mare Street in Hackney, almost doubling the number of people they can support. Increasingly, staff at the shelter are able to help their visitors off the streets and into permanent accommodation. Their Christmas appeal is attempting to raise £50,000 and donations made in December (up to £25,000) will be matched by ticketing company Ticket Tailor. Please donate via their Just Giving page.
6. Become a volunteer. Hackney Foodbank is constantly on the lookout for volunteers to help in the warehouse (Hoxton) and at their food distribution centres.
7. Join Basketbrigade with a day’s volunteering packing or delivering Christmas hampers for people in need. They’re holding a packing day on December 23rd in Tottenham and are looking for volunteers and donations.
8. Hackney Children and Baby Bank is collecting warm clothes for children aged two to 12. They’re based nearby in Clapton and work to support families in poverty. They also need Moses baskets, nappies, cots, coats and pushchairs.
9. Drop toiletries for Hackney Hygiene Bank. Earlybird Cards on Church St is a permanent donation point. Items donated are passed on to refuges, food banks, schools, a soup kitchen and more for people in need. Soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, washing powder and nappies are among the most needed items.
10. Check on your elderly or vulnerable neighbour. Every Thursday afternoon (from 2pm till 5pm) St Mary’s Centre (at the back of St Mary’s Church) is open as a warm space for people to come and enjoy free hot drinks and refreshments in a sociable, warm space. There’s also a community fridge inside the big church offering free meals for anyone who needs them. Please spread the word.