Volunteering time. CCGG #20

Blogmas on the CancerCarerChats blog is a daily charitable Christmas gift guide with a twist - each post will feature an idea for a charitable act.  Christmas is a time for giving whether it be for someone you know or for a stranger.  Take the time at this time of the year to do a good deed, just one small act can help someone who is less fortunate than you are.  
As a reminder, my mum was diagnosed with Stage IV ovarian cancer in March 2017 when I started this blog to raise awareness of the importance of early detection of ovarian cancer and my life as a carer.  I care for my mum, trying to ease some of the load on her and walk by her side on this journey.  It’s just as hard to watch someone you love go through pain, than to experience it yourself.

Christmas is a time of presents, food and family.  But it is also a time for money saving and cost cutting as the festivities take over and you end up spending too much money on wine and stocking fillers for the children.  But remember that you don’t have to be spending loads and loads of money to be doing good deeds during the holiday season.  You can still get the feels for free by volunteering your time.

Across the UK, volunteers are desperately required during the Christmas season to assist with services and assistance across a variety of ways.  If you have a local charity that you would like to offer your services too then reach out with them and find out how you can help but here are some ideas.

Homeless charity Crisis is looking for volunteers to help run homeless centres in London, Birmingham, Coventry, Newcastle and Edinburgh. The centres provide meals, entertainment and learning opportunities for people living rough or sleeping in hostels over Christmas.
Crisis needs 11,000 volunteers in total and although it started recruiting in October, it may still have places to fill. You don't need any qualifications or experience to be a general volunteer, but they're also looking for people with specific skills, eg, chefs, hair & beauty therapists, tutors and counsellors.
You can choose which shifts you'd like to do when you apply, but Crisis advises applying as early as possible to ensure you get the shifts you want. It says generally it asks volunteers to commit to a minimum of two shifts, but for some specific roles this might vary.

Charity shops
Charity shops such as Cancer Research UK and Oxfam rely on volunteers to run the shops so as to ensure turnover is kept as low as possible.  The consistent and loyal volunteers that serve customers during the year may request the Christmas period off and the shops require more staff to volunteer over the Christmas season.  This is especially important during the holiday season when the shops expect to sell more and receive more donations.  So if you find yourself with some free time during the holiday season or wish to ‘give back’ and do a good deed, then volunteer in a charity shop and help raise money.
Age UK is looking for telephone befrienders to have a 30-min call with an older person once a week. You'll be matched with someone with similar interests and given online training.
You don't have to give out your phone number, as Age UK's computer system automatically connects you with your telephone friend. You'll need to keep your conversations confidential.
This is a year-round opportunity, but loneliness can be acute at Christmas - particularly for elderly people living alone.

I’d be interested to hear about your experiences if you’ve ever volunteered at a homeless shelter or in a charity shop.  You can share your story with me on Twitter @CancerCarerChat using the hashtag #CCGG2017.

Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer
T – Toilet habit changes
E – Energy levels dropping
A – Abdominal pain/ swelling
L – Loss of appetite



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