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Chris on Christmas!

Good Giving Could be a Daily Act in Suffolk…

Not Just for Christmas

In every song you hear on the airwaves this month, and every verse you read in a festive card, you’ll be reminded of one of the most important messages behind the Christmas season.

What is it?

It’s the one which encourages us to ‘think of others’, to exercise ‘goodwill’ and to be generous of spirit.

What exactly that looks like, of course, means very many different things to different people.

For some, it’s dropping a parcel in to another’s home, while for others, it’s about helping to decorate a tree, agreeing to do some shopping – or giving up a period of their Christmas Day to serve in a homeless shelter or drive an elderly neighbour to a special festive meal.

Statistics from the Royal Voluntary Services say that more than 1 million people in the UK will volunteer on Christmas Day. By my calculations, if the same percentage of the population could be applied to Suffolk, that would mean about 11,000 people in our county would be doing that too.

I applaud all of you granting that time and compassion to others, and capturing the spirit of the season on 25th December itself.

While the RVS figures most likely relate to more ‘formal volunteering’ (at hostels and hospitals, charities and causes), of course, there will be thousands more who carry out more informal acts of ‘good giving’.

This latter approach is the ‘below the radar’ neighbourly type of kindness which makes someone’s day a little brighter and less lonely.

We know just how impactful this has proved to be across the county – in part because of the success of community activity like the Good Neighbour Scheme.

In the last 12 months alone, we’ve seen three new schemes launch, over 80 people recruited, close to 4000 tasks carried out, 255 households receiving help, and the overwhelming majority of scheme users saying their mental health and wellbeing has improved because of Good Neighbour Scheme’s existence.

So how do we build on success like this in Suffolk for the year ahead?

How do we ensure that we continue to value ‘good citizenship’, no matter what the season?

Well, let me lay down a challenge or at least a suggestion to you.

If you’ve not yet made a New Year’s Resolution for our new decade, I couldn’t think of a better one for you to commit to, than to say you will adopt more ‘good giving’ to aid those who live near, or alongside you in our great community.

Whether you’re an individual, a business, a school leader or an active family, there are many ways in which you can commit to some kind of ‘volunteering’ in either a ‘below the radar’ or more formal capacity.

How might you start?
How about these for some suggestions:

  • If you’re a business owner – sign up for Suffolk ProHelp and find out how your company could give your skill or support to a voluntary cause
  • If you’re an individual – register with Volunteer Suffolk and find out the vast number of events and activities which regularly require extra volunteers
  • If you work in a company and want to involve your colleagues in more community work – have a chat with Community Action Suffolk about developing an Employer Supported Volunteering Scheme
  • If you have a neighbour who lacks companionship or transport – be the one to reach out and offer a chat or to run an errand

Obviously these are just a few small ways to get you thinking about your part in a culture of ‘good giving’ for Suffolk, but I hope you’ll consider these and other approaches.

We have so much of which to be proud in this county. My 2020 aspiration is for a community which is even more aware and proactive about its opportunity to help others.

Surely that’s an ethos we could be living each and every day of the year…not just for Christmas!

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