If you are looking for a great way to give back this Christmas then this blog post is for you. This year I have teamed up with other UK Money Bloggers to bring you our Christmas 2017 campaign – the Reverse Advent Calendar.
What is a reverse advent calendar?
You might have heard of the Reverse Advent Calendar before, but if you haven't, the Reverse Advent Calendar is a great way to support your local food bank this festive season. Simply put, instead of (or as well as) opening an advent calendar every day during the advent period, you put something in a box for a food bank.
Let's get real for a moment – delivering your Reverse Advent Calendar to your local food bank on Christmas Eve isn't going to help anyone this festive period. You can either start your box earlier, or if you still want to deliver your box as close to Christmas as possible, make sure you don't include Christmas-specific items.
Why the food bank is so important to me
As some of you may know, I was homeless for about six months as a teenager. During this time, people in our church donated food and other household items to us. Once we were on our feet again, my mum went ahead and set up a food bank in the church. It was run a lot differently to how food banks are run now, but it means that the food bank is really close to my heart. Life is much better now, and it is great to be able to support others this way. You never know what life is going to throw you, and when you, or someone you love, may have to rely on a food bank.
How to get involved
Getting involved with the Reverse Advent Calendar is really simple, and there is no need to sign up to anything at all! Simply find a box (you can even decorate it if you want) and start putting food and other household or toiletry items in. Once you have completed your Reverse Advent box you can drop it off at your nearest food bank.
The Reverse Advent Calendar is a great thing to get kids involved with too. It teaches them to give back during a season where they are use to receiving a lot.
You can also spread the Reverse Advent Calendar as much as you would like. Perhaps you could get your workplace, university of friends involved.
What to put into your Reverse Advent box
The Trussell Trust have an official list of items that they give out to clients and are always in need of. Click here to see that list.
Some stats on food bank use
You might be wondering how, in this day and age, we still have the need for food banks. According to a study conducted by Oxford University, almost half of households reported their incomes were unsteady from week-to-week and month-to-month. A massive 78% are severely food insecure (meaning they had skipped meals and gone without eating – sometimes for days at a time – in the past 12 months), while over half could not afford heating or toiletries.
Possibly the hardest fact for me to swallow was that a massive 1/3 of people relying on food banks have mental health conditions.
Our visit to the food bank
As I mentioned, this is a campaign that is close to my heart, so we visited our local Trussell Trust food bank to meet the team running the food bank and to see how it runs.
Food banks have definitely come a long way since my mum started one, with a massive warehouse, packing lists and other services available to clients.
As well as being able to walk away with food, the clients were able to get help with a variety of needs such as housing help, mental health and others in a dedicated hub. The staff and volunteers were able to literally walk the clients across the road and into a hub with support from various agencies.
As well as that, the food bank also provides somewhere for clients to come and enjoy a hot drink and some biscuits as well as fellowship with others.
Click here to read more about the Reverse Advent Calendar. I would love to know if you are getting involved with the Reverse Advent Calendar this year.