Christmas is a time when our thoughts turn to family gatherings, laughter with the ones we love, turkey dinners laden with roast potatoes, parsnips, pigs in blankets, Christmas pudding, chocolate logs and many other scrumptious Christmas treats. But for some, according to The Trussell Trust and Age UK thoughts of preparing a Christmas dinner heaps pressure onto people who are alone and incredibly lonely or in crisis and are struggling to cover the basic costs of living such as heating bills, day to day food and other essentials let alone serve up a Christmas feast.

According to The Trussell Trust December is the busiest month for their food banks across the county. During December 2017, The Trussell Trust’s network provided 159,388 three-day emergency food supplies to people in crisis; 65,622 of these went to children and accordingly to the office of national statistics one in twenty adults are suffering from acute loneliness.

Here at McColl's we believe along with Age UK and The Trussell Trust that small acts of kindness can make a huge difference to someone's life and mental wellbeing. By installing donation food bins into McColl's stores, we aim working with the Trussell Trust and their network of food banks to help tackle food poverty.

So what small acts of kindness can we all do this Christmas to support our communities? Here are our top 5 small acts of kindness: -

1. Help combat loneliness in your community. There are many ways you can do this from popping in to see elderly neighbours for a cup of tea or if you have an hour to kill to join a UK community befriending group like Good Friends https://www.goodfriends.org.uk/ or Age UK’s service https://www.ageuk.org.uk/services/befriending-services, where you will be buddied up with someone who is experiencing loneliness.

2. Donate to a food bank. The Trussell Trust has launched its Christmas campaign to help raise funds to support its network of foodbanks. The charity relies on voluntary donations to support its network of foodbanks to provide essential emergency food, offer additional support to tackle the underlying causes of someone’s crisis, and campaign for change to structural drivers of foodbank use. You can donate to the campaign here https://www.trusselltrust.org/get-involved/christmas-appeal/. To find information on what items of stock are most needed at individual foodbanks in The Trussell Trust’s network, find their website via https://www.trusselltrust.org/get-help/find-a-foodbank/ and click on the links to “Give help”/”Donate food”. Remember to look out for the McColl’s food bank bins in stores.

3. Share your Christmas lunch. It could be as simple as preparing an extra plate of food and popping up the road to a neighbour or joining one of the UK’s many casserole or Christmas lunch clubs specially designed to connect people who like to cook with their older neighbours who aren’t always able to cook for themselves https://www.casseroleclub.com/ or https://communitychristmas.org.uk/

4. Volunteer. There is nothing that displays kindness more that giving up your own time to help others. Reach out to your community as there are many volunteering options over the Christmas period from local community centres, parish church groups to elderly care and children’s homes. UK organisations that are looking for volunteers over the Christmas period: https://www.salvationarmy.org.uk/volunteer-for-us, https://www.crisis.org.uk/get-involved/volunteer/ and https://england.shelter.org.uk/support_us/volunteer

5. Donate a Christmas gift. From gifting a toy for a child to gifting a comfort package for a homeless person these organisations can help you make someone’s Christmas: https://www.family-action.org.uk/get-involved/together-at-christmas/toy-appeal/, https://www.salvationarmy.org.uk/christmas-present-appeal and https://www.crisis.org.uk/get-involved/christmas-gifts/