While many of us look forward to good food and quality time with friends and family, Christmas can be a challenge for some.
For those who struggle financially Christmas shopping for food and presents may be difficult and for others who are alone or may not have friends or family nearby, Christmas can be a lonely time.
So, what is going on in Kingston and the surrounding areas to help those who may be alone, homeless, or struggling this Christmas?
Surbiton Community Fridge
Not only is Surbiton Community Fridge offering free hot lunches every day throughout December, but they are also holding a “Meet Santa’s Elves” event on December 22, to assist families who would appreciate a helping hand from Santa and his elves this year.
Families struggling to afford presents for their children they can fill in this form before the event so that Santa’s elves can prepare the perfect gifts for their children.
Children and families
Challengers, which is based in Guildford, is an organisation dedicated to delivering inclusive play and leisure for disabled children and young people across Surrey and Southwest London, including Kingston, Farnham, and Richmond.
This Christmas, Challengers are bringing disabled children and young people together to get in the Christmas spirit by offering them the chance to design their own Christmas cards, which Challengers then sell on their website to help fund their work.
Home-Start RKH is a charity that helps support local families during the important early years of raising a child, providing emotional and practical support to parents with pre-school children who are facing challenging times.
While they offer support all year round, they are offering some Christmas-themed activities and support for their families this year, including delivering bags of presents, with the support of Growbaby, to some of their most vulnerable families across Richmond, Kingston and Hounslow.
They’re also hosting a Christmas party at each of their three family groups and running Christmas craft and cooking workshops for children to enjoy, such as decorating Christmas biscuits.
Janet Deboo, Family Support Manager at Home-Start RKH said: “Christmas can be a difficult time for many families. Money worries, anxiety, loneliness, or grief are just a few of the issues our families are facing during the festive season, so we try to bring them some much-needed joy during these tough times, making Christmas just a little bit more magical.”
Visit their website to find out more about Home-Start support or if you are interested in volunteering.
Kingston Churches Action on Homelessness
Kingston Churches Action on Homelessness’ (KCAH) work with people whoo are homelessness or face the threat of becoming homeless.
They hold drop-in services whereby those who attend can seek advice on finding shelter, whether at KCAH’s private accommodation or elsewhere. This service runs every Monday- Friday throughout the year, including over the festive period and excluding public holidays.
They also help people get grant funding from the council, which can be up to £400. These grants help people pay bills and buy food and gifts for Christmas.
This year, KCAH has been working with children and churches who have created Christmas shoe boxes to give to those in need. The gifts include practical items for people who are homeless and presents for those in KCAH’s supported accommodation who can’t afford to buy their children or families Christmas presents to pass on.
KCAH is giving out these gifts to anyone who attends the drop-in sessions over the next week and in the build-up to Christmas.
KCAH’s Chief Executive, Georgie Forshaw, said: “Anyone that walks through the door will be offered the opportunity to take away a gift or a food package if they’d like to.”
She said that KCAH is working with some community charities to send deliver packages containing Christmas meal essentials to those staying in their supported accommodation on Christmas Eve.
KCAH are also signposting their clients to attend a Christmas meal at the United Reform Church in Kingston.
Free food and meals
St Peter’s Norbiton
On December 20, St Peter’s Norbiton is holding an Archway Community Café event from 10-12 at the Archway Parish Hall.
At the event, you will be offered cups of tea, some cake, fresh fruit, hot sausage rolls, and a chat. During the event, practical help and advice will be available, including access to their food bank and potential help with energy costs.
St Peter’s Kingston
From 11-15.00 on December 21, there will be a Vintage Banquet event at St Peter’s Church in Kingston for all to attend.
At the event, a meal and pudding will be provided as well as games, jokes, bingo, sewing, painting and plenty of time on arrival for tea, biscuits and a chat.
For more information on free events that occur throughout the year to help those who are vulnerable and in need, check out Connected Kingston’s 12 Days of Connected Kingston Christmas-focused offer, which provides a list containing a range of helpful services.
Kingston Charitable Foundation has alos created a leaflet with a list of food and shelter services available.