Dear writers, journalists and whoever,
If you’re lucky enough to be in the position that you and your friends have everything you need and don’t have to worry too much about money, giving to charity instead of buying Christmas presents is a lovely idea. As my (probably) last blog post of 2017, below are some great causes I have given time or money to in the past, and/or which have helped me in difficult times, that you might like to consider helping. If you know me but not well enough to see me or buy me anything for Christmas, I would also be very honoured if you would donate to any of them in my name.
A disclaimer: I can be cautious about cheerleading too much for any one organisation, as different people’s experiences of using the same one for support can be very varied. However, if you use a service as a vulnerable person and get someone unhelpful it’s always worth persevering and asking for someone else. I had a so-so experience with Cruse Bereavement Care and another extremely helpful one when I reluctantly went back three years later. While I wish I hadn’t needed it twice, the support I got the second time was amongst the best I’ve ever had for anything.
Here’s the list…
Mental health support
As well as national charities Mind, Heads Together, Rethink, Young Minds and The Mental Health Foundation consider donating to small local charities providing counselling and therapy for free or at reduced rates, such as Number 22 in Berkshire. While the Samaritans do great work for a lot of people, their volunteers aren’t trained mental health professionals. With NHS services thin to the bone at the moment, local dedicated charities are pretty much the only qualified support available to anyone who can’t afford anything from £50 to £500 an hour to see a therapist. They need all the money they can get. Organisations that train people in mental health first aid and suicide prevention are worth your time too.
Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) are specifically a male suicide prevention charity I do volunteering bits for, and they’re lovely. Their helpline also uses trained counsellors.
Support for people on low income
- Trussell Trust – the main provider of food banks in the UK.
- Shelter and StreetLink for homelessness.
- Arts Emergency – An alternative to old-school-tie networks, supporting young people from underrepresented backgrounds making a living in the creative arts.
- Regional writing organisations provide Arts Council bursaries to talented low-income writers – the Free Word Centre has more information and links – they are also office neighbours with the lovely TLC, who’ve supported me.
- Reprieve – Provides free legal and investigative support to those facing torture, execution, rendition and extrajudicial killing or imprisonment.
- As well as Cruse, mentioned previously, Winston’s Wish support bereaved children and families, including specifically those who’ve experienced sudden, traumatic bereavement. As do Child Bereavement UK and Grief Encounter.
- Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS) are a network of regional support groups where those affected can meet others like them. I haven’t personally found these especially helpful, but some people very much do.
- Refuge – support for women affected by domestic violence, including gift parcels for families spending Christmas in refuges.
- Women’s Equality Party. What it says on the tin. You can join if you’re a member of another party.
- Bloody Good – offers sanitary products to those who can’t afford them, including refugees, and campaigns to end period poverty.
Other organisations close to my heart
- The Dyspraxia Foundation are the only national UK charity supporting people with dyspraxia.
- Bliss supports premature babies and their families. I bumped into one of their trustees by chance when I was a spectating at this year’s London Marathon and told him I was one. That was a nice conversation.
Thank you for reading and have a lovely Christmas.