2016: Brexit. Trump. Syria. Yemen. Attacks. Cuts. The rise of fascism. All the lost icons. Southern Rail.
I don’t think I have ever looked forward to a new year as much as i look forward to 2017. Whilst, personally, I had a lot of highs (I got to go to six weddings!), 2016 has not been a kind year for the world.
It’s all too easy to feel powerless or unheard, to forget about all the good in the world, the brilliant things people are doing, and that we can be part of communities in real life as well as online (yes, really). So, here are some suggestions that won’t break the bank, for when the final verse of Auld Lang Syne has stopped playing on repeat inside your head…
Festive cheer at Crisis at Christmas
Apparently, we are all just two pay cheques away from being homeless. As homelessness has been on the rise since 2010 and looks set to continue increasing, why not volunteer for the brilliant service put on by Crisis during the festive season? I’ve volunteered before as a performer (playing ‘Wise Gal’ in a pop rock nativity musical. Woop for gender equality!) and a friend of mine is volunteering as a chef this year, but there are many different volunteering roles. Or, if you don’t have a centre near you, why not sponsor one? It costs just £22.32 for one person to start the new year with hot meals, medical check-ups and treatments, and an introduction to the advice and training that Crisis offer throughout the year.
January health kick with good gym
If you’ve not yet been bombarded with flyers and emails about half price gym memberships, you soon will – ’tis the season for bellies that wobble like bowls full of jelly. But, there are free alternative ways to get fit and support your local community at the same time. Good Gym is free to join, but most members opt to donate £9.95 a month which, to me, seems worth it for the motivation and coaching given. You choose between running as a group (led by a running coach), completing a task for the community (eg. planting daffodil bulbs), running alone to complete a task for someone elderly, or a regular run once a week where you spend 20 minutes in the middle of the run having a cuppa and a chat to an elderly person who becomes your ‘coach’ and motivates you to keep up the weekly exercise.
Meet the one (or have some fun) thanks to Good Deed Dating
Good Deed Dating won the UK 2016 Dating Award for ‘Innovation within the Industry’. Not dissimilar to Good Gym, it holds events where singles register to volunteer for a good cause. It sounds less stressful than your average speed dating night or an online date where the pressure can be on to spend a whole evening with a stranger. You might be cooking in a kitchen that provides free meals, cheering people on at a charity run, or helping out at a fundraising event. It might lead to your next new year’s eve being spent with that special someone…