For many people, Christmas is a time of eating, drinking and being merry. But some people aren’t so fortunate. People who are homeless or struggling to make ends meet.

In Manchester there are a number of charities and organisations lending a helping hand and many of them are grateful for help over the Christmas period.

From helping host a festive meal for the homeless to just a couple of hours of assistance or a donation, you can make a big difference.

So if you think there’s more to Christmas than eating too much, drinking too much and falling asleep watching It’s A Wonderful Life on TV for the hundredth time, read on.

Lifeshare Christmas Drop-in

Every year, homelessness charity Lifeshare open up the Charter St Ragged School on Dantzic St so people who may be sleeping rough or do not have a safe place to go can escape isolation and enjoy a supportive environment with clothing, bedding, toiletries and medical care available.. Up to 60 volunteers are needed to help run the drop-in or you can donate goods or help cover the costs.

Barnabus

Barnabus is a local charity which has grown from a one-man effort around 25 years ago to  a team of 70 volunteers visiting up to 600 homeless and vulnerable people every week. Winter is an especially busy time with volunteers needed more than ever to help prepare and serve food over the Christmas period. You can also get involved over the next couple of months with 10am – 3pm Monday to Friday a popular slot to help sort through donated items.

Greater Manchester Winter Night Shelter

Providing shelter for vulnerable people across Greater Manchester, GMWNS need volunteers to give one (or more) shift per week at one of their seven locations – with morning, evening and overnight slots available. Whether you can give a regular weekly shift, or even just a few hours, your assistance can make a massive difference helping vulnerable people in from the cold.

Dogs Trust Manchester Christmas Fair

Dogs Trust Manchester are looking for events volunteers for their annual Christmas Fair. This is the opportunity to get involved in a big festive event raising money to support abandoned animals this Christmas. You must be available on Sunday 3 December 2017, as well as one of the following: Tuesday 28 November or Thursday 30 November. You can also support Dogs Trust through donations.

The Booth Centre

The Booth Centre is one of Manchester’s best known homelessness charities, making a difference to the lives of vulnerable people who are homeless or at risk.  Coming up is their Christmas Volunteering Challenge – with the goal of participants raising £100 in sponsorship to help with vital services. People can take part on Thursday 21 December, Friday 22 December or Wednesday 27 December from 8.30am until 1.30pm – which will involve working with homeless people to make a positive difference, from creating fun activities to helping with organisation. An induction session for volunteers will take place at the centre on 6 December at 1pm or 11 December at 5pm.

FareShare Food Collection

FareShare is a food distribution charity helping families less fortunate and will be collecting long-life groceries from shoppers in Tesco stores UK-wide on Thursday 30 November, Friday 1 December and Saturday 2 December. You could collect enough food for 600 meals in the space of just 3 hours!

Centrepoint

Centrepoint works with vulnerable young people aged 16-25 who may be at risk of homelessness or who may have drugs, alcohol or mental health issues. They are looking for volunteers to help out – even people who can’t commit every week but still want to help make a difference. They have bases in Wythenshawe and in the Northern Quarter, where donation such as toiletries, food parcels and basic clothing are welcomed.