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To shine a light on some of the great work that happens every day, here we’re taking a look at just a few of the amazing charities and organisations in the North of England and Scotland that make vital contributions within their communities. Whether that’s providing support to the homeless or offering comfort and advice to those going through a tough time.
A brilliant organisation based in Manchester is the Francis House Children’s Hospice. At any given time, they’re able to provide support to over 500 families in the local area, whether that’s clinical care for those with disabilities or emotional support for families.
COVID-19 has been a huge hurdle in allowing Francis House to deliver their usual level of support to Manchester’s children in need. But they’ve still managed to achieve some incredible things thanks to the support and generous donations from the local community.
In little over six months in 2020, they were able to safely make 353 home visits, give emergency care to 60 children and clock in over 6,000 hours of telephone support. And they even sourced a huge amount of PPE, so their staff, and the children themselves, could stay safe.
There are plenty of ways to get involved with Francis House in 2021 if you can, including shopping on their online store or taking part in the annual Easter Knit a Chick appeal.
Rock Trust based in Edinburgh, is a fantastic charity with the aim of ending youth homelessness in Scotland. They are ensuring that every young person has access to expert youth-specific services to assist them to avoid, survive and move on from homelessness.
By advising, educating and supporting young people, Rock Trust enables them to build the personal skills and resources required to make a positive and healthy transition to adulthood. And while homelessness is an issue up and down the UK, it’s never been more vital for young people to have the support they need.
As well as donating directly to the charity if you can, there are plenty of ways to get involved with fundraising. You could take part in April’s COVID-safe virtual kiltwalk or even #RunforRockTrust in the marathon, half marathon, 10K or 5K during the Edinburgh Marathon Festival.
Being able to put a plate of food on the table has become increasingly difficult for many families. Job losses and furlough have put a huge strain on people’s bank balances, making even basic food and essentials unaffordable.
Luckily, many cities across our network run amazing foodbanks which are able to provide a range of items – from tinned and dried goods to essential toiletries. With the assistance of volunteers they continue to support local people with humility and respect.
The Newcastle West End Foodbank is one place that’s had many more requests for vouchers during 2020 and 2021. This extra strain on their resources has meant they’re in constant need of donations of food and other household items. If you’re local, why not add a few extra things to your food shop this week to drop off at their contactless donation centre on Benwell Lane?
Alder Hey Children’s Charity is a wonderful charity that raises vital funds to help make Alder Hey Children's Hospital a truly world-class, patient-friendly hospital for the 330,000 patients and families they care for every year.
Since April 2013, over £56million has been raised through the charity for a range of life-saving medical equipment and facilities that are making a real difference to families every day. And despite the current restrictions, fundraising is continuing with plenty of opportunities for you to get involved if you can. These include supporting child mental health services through the charity’s COVID-safe #MillionMiles of exercise, taking on the Coniston Challenge or joining in with Oli’s Safari Walk.
It’s not just people who need help during these tricky times. Taking care of the environment and the natural habitats of our native wildlife is also really important.
The Cumbria Wildlife Trust has been around since 1962 and is on a mission to protect the beautiful countryside of Cumbria for future generations through its conservation programmes. While volunteering has unfortunately been suspended during the pandemic, the trust still needs people to raise awareness, fundraise and assist with important wildlife surveys.
You could also support them simply by taking a walk in one of their nature reserves if you live in the local area. These are spread across the region, with a handful within easy distance of Penrith and Carlisle for people that live locally.
Samaritans is a UK-wide charity, but they do fantastic work on a regional level through their local support hubs like the one based in Huddersfield. The charity continues to do amazing things to support those who are struggling to cope or at risk of suicide. In January, we teamed up with Samaritans for their Brew Monday campaign which saw our staff checking in on each other over a virtual cuppa on Blue Monday – a day that’s considered one of the most depressing of the year.
The rail industry’s connection with Samaritans stretches back over a decade, with the charity providing training to thousands of rail staff and British Transport Police members in suicide prevention. You can see a picture below of some of our staff working with their volunteers a couple years ago to raise awareness about the Samaritans and their cause.
There’s no better time to get involved with the Samaritans’ vital work. If you can, you could volunteer to help run the charity’s 24-hour phoneline which gives invaluable support to those who are emotionally distressed. As well as the location in Huddersfield there are 200+ hubs across the UK where you can do this, all with strict COVID-19 safety regulations currently in place.
Loneliness and isolation are very real problems for countless people across the country and have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Liverpool Cares is a fantastic charity that seeks to address disconnection in the connected age by harnessing people and places for the benefit of everyone. Specifically, it is a network of young professionals and older neighbours hanging out right across the city.
The objectives of the charity are to:
• Reduce isolation and loneliness amongst older people and young professionals alike.
• Improve the connection, confidence, skills, resilience and power of all participants so neighbours can feel part of the changing city rather than left behind by it.
• Bring people together to reduce the gaps across social, generational, digital, cultural and attitudinal divides.
There are plenty of great ways to help if you can including donating, joining virtual social clubs or taking on one of their many COVID-safe fundraising challenges in the local area.
If you are able to help one of these amazing charities, remember to stay local and only travel if your journey is essential. If you do have to travel, make sure you keep safe onboard by social distancing from other passengers, wearing a face covering and only travelling if you’re completely symptom-free.
After more ways to assist your local community this year? Take a look at our guide to the tastiest takeaway venues across our network or discover how you can support some independent businesses in your area.