No-one should be hungry at Christmas, or anytime actually. But it is a stark reality for many people. 13 Million people in the UK are now living below the poverty line. People are going hungry every day for a variety of reasons. These range from benefit delays to unexpected bills and a number of other circumstances.
I read a post by fellow blogger Clare at MyMoneyCottage.com, about the reverse advent calendar. Have you heard about it? I was keen to get involved, and Clare pointed me in the direction of UKMoneyBloggers.com who are using the hashtag #FoodBankAdvent to promote the idea of a reverse advent calendar, in association with the Trussell Trust, who run many food banks across the country.
What is a Reverse Advent Calendar?
With an Advent Calendar, you open a window each day from December 1st to Christmas Day and get a reward. It used to be a picture or a chocolate for children. These days there are so many variations, and adults too can indulge themselves with everything from beauty products to beer advent calenders.
In a Reverse Advent Calendar, you make a donation each day. Giving instead of receiving is a good message to teach our children too. Get an empty box, then put one item for your local food bank into it every day. You could do this for 25 days to mirror the advent calendar – or perhaps for a whole month. It can be the required essentials or some special treats.
Find your local food bank
You can find your local Trussell Trust food bank on this map. There will be a local website with contact details – email address and telephone number – so you can check where to take your box to and when. It also advises what they are particularly short of currently, and will give you a list of what usually goes in a parcel, to give you some ideas.
For my local friends in the North East, here are the links for the Trussell Trust in Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Billingham, Durham, Gateshead, Walker, Newcastle East, Newcastle West End. In the Edinburgh and Borders area, the Trussel Trust can be found at Peeblesshire, Midlothian, East Lothian, Edinburgh SE, Edinburgh NE, Edinburgh SW, Edinburgh NW, Edinburgh E.
In between these are many food banks in the County Durham and Northumberland areas run by other organisations. Wherever you are in the UK you should be able to find a food bank nearby. Your local council or Citizens Advice may have details of other food banks in your area. I just used Google.
It is a sad state of affairs that there have to be so many food banks nowadays, but I am at least thankful that there are such places, and that we are doing our best to take care of each other in times of need.
This year thousands of people applying for Universal Credit for the first time will have to get through the six or more weeks waiting period at the start. Even if they can get an advance payment during this time, it will only be half of what they should have, forcing them to choose between food, heating, paying the rent and getting into debt.
Foodbanks do their best to fill this gap. December is their busiest month of the year, with 45% more referrals during the two weeks before Christmas. More than 90% of the food Trussell Trust distributes comes from donations from the public.
The best time to start
If you want your donation to be used for Christmas, you need to get it to your local food bank in early December. Christmas Eve is too late – especially as it’s a Sunday this year! Getting donations early lets food banks sort the items and get them to where they are most needed.
Collecting through November and delivering the donations in the first week in December, therefore, would be the best timing. If you want to collect during Advent itself, then your donations will be just as welcome in January.
So, will you join us?
If you do a reverse advent calendar box this year, why not put a photo of it on Facebook to encourage your friends to do the same? Use the hashtag #FoodbankAdvent.
Please pin to spread the word: