Lifestyle

The joy of giving at Christmas – Reverse Advent

As we wave goodbye to October and Halloween focus starts to shift towards Christmas preparations and with less than a month until the advent countdown I wanted to tell you why I have decided to do a reverse advent during November.

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It’s almost impossible not to be aware of the increase in families forced to rely on emergency assistance from food banks with it regularly being featured in the media. I personally find it heart-breaking that in this day and age in our country food bank usage has reached a record high with over 1 million 3-day parcels being handed out last year 2016/17, with figures only set to soar with the governments continued roll out the new Universal Credit changes.

I often pick up a couple of extra items – when my baby brain remembers – to pop into the collection points now situated at most major supermarkets for donations. Despite not having a lot of spare money myself I know that those couple of items will make a significant difference to someone who needs it.

Many people seem to have the opinion that those using the food banks are scroungers or those on benefits who can’t be bothered to work, however this isn’t always the case in many situations. Life is unpredictable and it only takes some bad luck or ill health and literally anyone could find them in the position without the means to feed themselves or their family. It is for this reason that I continue to donate when I can as I would like to think that god forbid the worst happened to my family that we would be able to benefit from the wonderful work that food banks continue to provide.

Christmas for me has always been my favourite time of the year, full of fun, family, gifts and food as it is for a lot of families. Unfortunately though for many families this isn’t the case and their main concern will be how to feed their families the basics over the festive period. This has inspired me to complete a reverse advent this year to try and help brighten someone’s Christmas.

Most people are familiar with how a normal advent calendar works, 24 or 25 days of treats hidden behind numbered doors counting down to Christmas, a reverse calendar is the opposite with an item being added daily to donate.

A large number of food banks are run by the Trussell Trust and on their website (Trussell Trust Website) they provide a list of items they try include in a 3 day emergency food parcel when a client is referred. This list is a fantastic starting point for anyone wishing to do the reverse advent as it gives a good varied idea of the types of items the food banks need as donations.

I decided to start mine in November so that I am able to take the items down to my local food bank at the beginning of December to enable them to be used for families over the festive period. I have already made a few purchases over the last couple of weeks, mainly staple tins plus some pasta and rice, but plan on adding to my stash on a weekly basis when I do my own grocery shop. I’m going to add not only more staple food items, but also a few extra Christmas treats in the hope that it makes someone’s Christmas a little brighter and I hope to exceed 25 items if I can!

I also plan on adding a handful of toiletries (loo roll, shower gel, soap etc) and hygiene products as these are often items that aren’t donated but are crucial for clients. It is also worth considering purchasing some ‘Free From’ too! I know our local food bank site updates their site regularly with items that they are running low on so it is well worth checking with your local bank when considering your shopping list.

I’m looking forward to involving the children in this project too as I feel it’s really important to teach them that Christmas is about giving and helping others and not just about what they would like to receive.

We would love you join in with us and it would be great to hear your reverse advent ideas and tips!

My donations will be taken to my local food bank in Carlisle, Cumbria at the end of November . If you are in the Carlisle area and looking to donate they currently have a shortage of :

Tinned meat (eg stews, corned beef etc)

Tinned fish (mainly tuna)

Tinned fruit and veg

Long life milk (1 litre)

Rice pudding or custard (tinned or packet)

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