Charitable Giving at Christmas

Councillor Ellie King, smiling, standing on the ramp of Bristol City Hall
Today’s blog is from Councillor Ellie King, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Communities

Christmas is known as the season of goodwill, and many people associate that with being generous to those less fortunate than themselves. However, the national cost of living crisis is having a huge impact on people in Bristol and I know this will be really difficult for many this year.

Having said that, Bristol never ceases to amaze me in how we come together and help others in their time of need. I am aware of some generous people who are wanting to give back to others this Christmas, whether that’s donating money, volunteering, or donating food. Time and time again, Bristol residents support each other. We saw it during the COVID-19 pandemic and we are seeing it again now.

Of course, you don’t need to donate money or food to make a difference. For you it could be picking up the phone to a family member or friend who you’ve not heard from in a while or checking on an elderly neighbour. There are also volunteering opportunities listed on the Can Do Bristol website.

If you are in the position to and want to help others with money or donations, here are a few ways you can do this:

Bristol Energy Network is doing great work to raise £100,000 to help Bristolians who are struggling to pay their energy bills. They’ve launched the Bristol Emergency Winter Fuel Fund, a city-wide crowdfund to be distributed by five community partners: Ambition Lawrence Weston, Heart of BS13, Re:work, Lockleaze Neighbourhood Trust, and Eastside Community Trust.  If you’d like to donate or want to find out more about the fund, who is eligible and how it’ll work, visit their Just Giving page. Alternatively, you could also donate money to a council fund designed to support low-income households who can’t afford the basics like food, gas, electricity, or household goods. Donations can be made on the Bristol City Council website.

While these two funds will be supporting residents specifically, Quartet Community Foundation is raising money for community groups who support our citizens. Quartet’s Cost of Living Fund will help these groups ensure local people and communities can mobilise much needed support and advice. Quartet has a number of grant programmes that charities, voluntary or community organisations can apply to and any money that you donate will go towards these. These community groups did so much for residents during COVID-19 but they’re doing even more with less now. Some of them are opening their doors as Welcoming Spaces and will be facing their own rising energy prices – this fund will help them continue their fantastic work. If you would like to donate to the Cost of Living Fund, visit the Quartet website.

We’ve previously referred to our One City approach to this crisis, with community organisations all coming together to make a difference to residents’ lives. As part of this approach a network of Welcoming Spaces were opened across the city, with 84 now available for all residents to access. A map and list of these are all listed on the Bristol City Council website.  If you would like to support a space close to you with donations, get in touch with them and see what they need.

There are so many people having to choose between paying bills and eating, something that Feeding Bristol noted as being routine practice for some residents. If you would like to help provide food to people this winter, many supermarkets have drop-off points to donate food. Alternatively, you could donate to your local foodbank or club but you’ll need to check with them in advance to find out what items they need. You can find details of the city’s foodbanks on the council’s cost of living support webpage.

If you need any cost of living support or advice visit the council’s cost of living support webpage or call the We Are Bristol helpline for free on 0800 694 0184 between 8.30am and 5pm Monday to Friday. It will not be available on the Christmas bank holidays. Many local organisations are closing over the Christmas period but there will be a section on the webpage shortly with national helplines that will be available to help you should you need it.