Looking for a way to give back this Christmas? Here are some great Irish charities that need your help

Its all about giving back this time of year ...

Looking for a way to give back this Christmas? Here are some great Irish charities that need your help

A statue of Jim Larkin is silhouetted by a tree on O'Connell Street. Image: Niall Carson PA Archive/PA Images

Christmas is the one time of year that most people make more of an effort to show friends, family members and colleagues how much they care and appreciate them. For some people though, Christmas is the one time of year that the lack of love or companionship in their life is highlighted. So this year, as well as giving back at home and at work, think about giving back to some charities too.  

ALONE

While the dream of a white Christmas may be high on many wish lists this holiday season, the cold weather can be extremely difficult for some of our more senior citizens.

Met Éireann are predicting very cold conditions to settle in as the final countdown to Christmas begins this year - with meteorologist Jean Byrne expecting conditions to turn, “very cold with the risk of some wintery showers” by Christmas Eve.

The holidays can also be one of the loneliest time of the year for many older people and Irish charity ALONE provides fantastic supports at a time of great need.

The charity receives no government funding for their day-to-day activities and there are a range of ways to get involved on the charity’s website.

“Loneliness can have a massively detrimental effect on your health and a befriending call can make a huge difference to an older person’s well-being,” said Karen Coan of Alone.

“We would be delighted to hear from anybody who has an interest in helping us to support older people to age well at home. 

“Also, if anybody would like to get involved in volunteer fundraising  by organising a community event or participating in a running event etc we have a fundraising pack and we would be delighted to get fundraising support.”

SVP

Ireland’s oldest charity, the Society of St Vincent de Paul has been helping people in need since 1844.

Over the past number of years, the society has seen a huge increase in the number of families looking for help with more than 50,000 people expected to reach out this holiday season.

The society’s Cork mission has reported a 10% increase in requests for help this year with volunteers expecting to send out three times more Christmas Day hampers than in 2015.

In November, the number of calls received in the east region - encompassing Dublin, Wicklow and Kildare - was 10% higher than the same month last year.

Volunteering with The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul gives you an opportunity to make all the difference in someone’s life.

Whether you have a few hours to spare or would like to make a more long-term commitment, there are lots of ways you can get involved and help change someone’s life at svp.ie.

Focus Ireland

With the latest figures showing nearly 6,900 people are homeless in Ireland, now is the time to give back and help make a difference for people living in emergency accommodation and on the streets around the country.

Focus Ireland provides assistance across the country offering support, education and temporary accommodation to families, young people and children at risk or affected by homelessness.

There are a wide-range of ways to help the charity - with services heavily dependent on volunteering and donations.

To find out more you can get in contact here. 

The Simon Community

Simon Communities across the country provide support and services to thousands of people facing homelessness every year. 

The society boasts centres in most of the main cities around the country and as the colder weather settles in the number of people turning to the charity for help increases.

You can get involved by donating anything from sleeping bags to warm clothing as part of the charity’s ‘Winter Woollies’ campaign or by sending a ‘Simon Star’ to give a loved one a truly meaningful gift this Christmas.

You can find more ways to get involved with Simon here.

Pieta House

Pieta House tackle issues of suicide and self-harm day after day - issues that have touched every community in Ireland. 

Last year, a shocking 451 people took their own lives in Ireland, with one in four people expected to experience some form of mental health issue each year.

Donations and fundraising make up nearly 90% of Pieta House’s income and as the charity continues to expand services all around the country - they are in need of the public’s help now more than ever.

You can help out this Christmas by downloading the organisation’s seasonal version of Michael Jackson's “You are not Alone” - performed by Irish artists, Ryan O’Shaughnessy, Mary Byrne, Taken, Heroes in Hiding and the Dublin Gospel Choir.

You can donate €4 to Pieta quickly and easily by texting PH4 to 50300 or donate directly through the website.

The ISPCC

Ireland’s national child protection charity, the ISPCC supports children who are suffering from abuse, anxiety, stress, grief and risk of drug and alcohol abuse.

Childline, the charity’s national listening service for children and young people answered over 420,000 calls for help in 2015.

The charity also provides therapeutic supports to children, young people and families and advocates making child protection a national priority by advising lawmakers on policy and practical change.

The charity depends almost entirely on donations and you can find out more about how to help here.

The ISPCA

The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) is Ireland’s largest national animal welfare charity, representing 19 affiliated member societies.

They deal with cases of cruelty and abuse and constantly lobby for better laws around animal welfare.

The ISPCA believes that animals have the right to live their lives free from needless suffering and aim to rescue, rehabilitate and responsibly re-home animals that are subjected to cruelty or neglect. 

You can find out more about their work and donate here.

The Jack and Jill Foundation

The Jack and Jill Foundation provides much needed relief to parents and children living with the effects of brain damage in Ireland.

The charity provides nursing care and support for children with severe neurological development issues, as well as offering some respite to the parents and families.

Jack & Jill also provides direct funding to families, enabling them to buy home respite care to give them a break. The Foundation cannot cure the children. But it can help to alleviate some of the difficulties that exist.

The charity relies on donations to survive and provide the nearly €3m per year it takes to offer the services.

You can find out how you can help here.

Lauralynn

The Lauralynn foundation helps children with life-limiting conditions, providing palliative care and support for their families.

The charity’s holistic approach supports the whole family and allows parents to be ‘Mum and Dad’ rather than full time carers.

The charity provides life-changing supports to children right up to the age of 18 as well as residential care for young adults with intellectual and physical disabilities.

There are many ways to help out at LauraLynn and you can find out more here.

Barretstown

Barretstown offers free, specially designed camps and programmes for children and their families living with a serious illness - supported behind the scenes by 24 hour on site medical and nursing care.

The organisation helps children and their families deal with the emotional and physiological scares often left after months and years of treatment.

Each year it costs €4.8m to run the programs at Barretstown.

The programme is endorsed by leading medical professionals and has become internationally recognised as having a profound and lasting impact on the lives of children with serious illness.

All of the children and families who go to Barretstown do so free of charge and you can help support this wonderful program by donating or volunteering.

Find out more about their special Christmas appeal here.