Giving the gift of time this Christmas

Giving the gift of time this Christmas

For millions of us, Christmas is now looking considerably quieter this year. 


The turkey for six in my freezer looks set to stay on ice – alongside my plans to see my brother and my mum. Well, in-person at any rate – they’re planning to thrash me at Pictionary on Zoom now instead!


But while some festive plans, like my own,  just got a whole lot smaller, for the millions of people volunteering their time in the days ahead, this holiday season will be as busy as ever.


Grants data from our Coronavirus Appeal captures just how busy charities have been this year, responding to the impacts of the pandemic, while trying their level best to offer the same care and compassion as they would in a steady-state.


To-date the Appeal has supported more than 12,500 projects by charities and groups who have created, or changed, their frontline services at a moment’s notice. They’ve responded to the unexpected in really extraordinary ways – and volunteers will have played a vital part.


For many, this work will continue in the coming days. 


One in ten people plan to spend this Christmas volunteering. And young people, in particular, are keen to step up. The number of 18-24 year olds who say they’ll be volunteering their time has grown by nearly two thirds compared to Christmas last year. 


They’ll be making meals and creating connections for their communities. Delivering toy packages to light up little faces. Or offering support and advice, or simply a friendly voice, at the other end of a phone, as is the case with so many of our national charity partners.


I think it’s pretty incredible that, in spite of the cards this year has dealt, so many people, of all ages. will still be putting others’ needs before their own.


Tomorrow I will be (quietly) raising a glass to all of them, and to everyone who’s given the precious gift of their time this year – including to our own Coronavirus Appeal – to make the impossible possible.


Mhairi Sharp
National Emergencies Trust