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All the best ways to help others in the cold weather

The drop in temperatures can push the vulnerable into crisis. Here are practical ways you can help

The cold weather isn’t all snow angels and postcard scenes. For the country’s most vulnerable, it can tip an otherwise normal day into crisis and make life more difficult.

This year, the situation is even more acute as energy bills and inflation combine to squeeze incomes. The choice between heating and eating is a grim reality. And for those already sleeping rough or experiencing homelessness, it is a critical time.

But help is available, and there are ways you can help loved ones and those you see around you.

Ways you can help others in the cold weather

StreetLink

The cold weather puts those sleeping rough in immediate danger. However, it’s a time when help is available.

If you see somebody in England or Wales on the streets or sleeping rough, contacting StreetLink could help save a life. Use the app or phone line to send details of when and where you have seen somebody, and a description of them. Find out how here.

However, if the person is under 18 or needs immediate help, please call 999.

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If you can’t help them get to a shelter, some items might help

Warm clothing, hot food or a hot drink can make a massive difference to help somebody sleeping on the streets.

If you’re not in a financial position to help in these ways, a compassionate conversation costs you nothing and could lead to other ways to assist.

Volunteering

Yes, the festive period is commonly associated with ungenerous characters: Scrooge and the Grinch are staples of every Christmas. But that doesn’t have to be you.

It’s a great time to get involved with volunteering and make a lasting impact in your community. We’ve put together a guide of opportunities available over the festive period, and one if you’re specifically looking to volunteer on Christmas Day.

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Useful items to donate to food banks during cold weather

For those on the lowest incomes, cold weather makes a tough time even harder to manage. There are certain items which are particularly helpful to donate to a food bank during a cold snap.

Rachel Macklin, head of South England and Wales at the Trussell Trust said: “Food banks are always in need of food donations, like UHT milk, long life fruit juice, tinned meat, fish and veg, sponge puddings, custard and rice pudding. Or also food items that only need a microwave or kettle to cook. 

“Some food banks are also giving out hot water bottles and blankets, but not all would have the capacity to do so, so we would always advise to get in touch with your local food bank to check what they are most in need of.”

Check on your elderly neighbours

To be blunt, dropping temperatures put the elderly in danger. Even at the start of the year, Age UK was warning that soaring energy prices would see pensioners freezing to death in their homes.

So check in on your elderly neighbours. It could be a quick knock on the door and a nice conversation. You could bring them something warm, if they need it, invite them in for a cup of tea, or ask if they need anything from the shops on your way. They’ll be grateful for the help in the cold weather.

The Big Issue’s #BigFutures campaign is calling for investment in decent and affordable housing, ending the low wage economy, and millions of green jobs. The last 10 years of austerity and cuts to public services have failed to deliver better living standards for people in this country. Sign the open letter and demand a better future.

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Every copy counts this Winter

Your local vendor is at the sharp end of the cost-of-living crisis this Winter. Prices of energy and food are rising rapidly. As is the cost of rent. All at their highest rate in 40 years. Vendors are amongst the most vulnerable people affected. Support our vendors to earn as much as they can and give them a fighting chance this Winter.

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