If there is one thing I’ve relied on this year it’s the local community, and what a fantastic one we have. But not everyone is okay at the moment and there are lots of people who need our help this Christmas. I’m determined to support local this Christmas, from shopping with small businesses to supporting local charitable efforts. With that in mind, I’ve pulled together a list of ways to help out in the local area this Christmas to help spread the word.

Donate to a Foodbank

There are 61 percent more people locally needing help this year compared with 2019. Walton & Hersham Foodbank relies on food donations to help people in a crisis and regularly updates its list of what they currently need. Next time you’re shopping perhaps drop something extra in your basket or visit their site for other ways you can help.

Support Smiles2Smiles

This small, local, non-profit charity helps people in our local community who are less fortunate or vulnerable as well as families in need. If you can donate anything from their wish list it will make someone’s Christmas a bit brighter.

I have agreed with some friends that instead of buying each other’s children gifts this Christmas we will buy something from the Smiles2Smiles wish list instead.

Visit Some Christmas Lights

It’s a bit of a tradition in our house to go and visit one of the amazing house displays of Christmas lights and make a donation in return. This year we are heading to Felix Road in Walton (KT12 2LD), run by Jack Pennycate who is collecting for NHS Charities.

Make A Big Bear Donation

Our local Walton on Thames shopping centre, The Heart, is collecting teddy bears for a local children’s charity nominated by the community. You can drop your bear donations off at the collections box outside of Clarks and they will be distributed in early January.

Get Involved With A Small Local Charity

Did you know there has been a five-fold increase in rough sleeping in Elmbridge since 2015? Rentstart is a charity helping local people who are homeless or vulnerably housed. They really appreciate support from the local community so check out their site for more details of how you can help.

Another local charity that values all support is Elmbridge CAN. This is a small charity supporting the resettlement of refugees in Elmbridge and has many ways you can get involved.

Support a Local Hospice

Shooting Star Children’s Hospices supports 700 babies, children and young people with life-limiting conditions, and their families living in London and Surrey. As a charity their fundraising efforts have been dramatically impacted by the pandemic, from their shops being closed to cancelling fundraising events. They are currently running a Christmas appeal and would greatly welcome your support.

If you are feeling active, Prince Alice Hospice has organised a virtual santa fun run to raise funds. Choose any time, date and place that suits you to walk, jog, run, cycle, ski or even paddle-board a 5k or 10k this Christmas.

I hope this inspires you to help out locally this Christmas, every little bit will make a huge difference.

My name is Katie Lister and I’m a Surrey family photographer living in Hersham. Get in touch today to book a socially-distanced family photoshoot.

I’d like to thank my wonderful friend Sal who has generously donated her time and kind heart to compile this blog post.