Edinburgh Christmas: Where to volunteer and donate in Edinburgh and where to go if you need help

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Christmas is a great time to give back to our community and bring light into other people’s lived – here are a few ideas to help.

Christmas is a time of joy and happiness, and, as Charles Dickens famously pointed out, a time to spread that joy as far as possible.

Sometimes it can be difficult to know how, or where to go, so we’ve got a couple of ideas that can help.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Also, if you need help or support, scroll to the bottom where there is a list of numbers and organisations you can reach out to.

Josh Littlejohn MBE, co-founder of Social BiteJosh Littlejohn MBE, co-founder of Social Bite
Josh Littlejohn MBE, co-founder of Social Bite


Crisis is a UK wide charity for people experiencing homelessness.

Especially when the temperature drops, it’s crucial that those without a home are given a warm place to sleep, and access to food and security, as well as help finding long term solutions.

There are active roles that people can take over the Christmas period, including working in their warehouse sorting food packages, to delivery drivers, chefs, kitchen assistant, hair dresser and well being caller.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
Where can I volunteer in Edinburgh this Christmas? Where can I go if I need help?Where can I volunteer in Edinburgh this Christmas? Where can I go if I need help?
Where can I volunteer in Edinburgh this Christmas? Where can I go if I need help?

You can make a huge difference to people’s lives by giving up just a few hours of your day.

All volunteer opportunities this Christmas with Crisis can be found here. Crisis also takes financial donations, on its website.

Edinburgh Food Banks

Food Banks across the country are operated by the charity the Trussell Trust, and, especially during this cost of living crisis, are essential.

Coat exchange will be available at Ocean Terminal and Fort KinnairdCoat exchange will be available at Ocean Terminal and Fort Kinnaird
Coat exchange will be available at Ocean Terminal and Fort Kinnaird

It is heartbreaking that this is the case, but in the immediate future, we need to rally to ensure they have enough food to distribute to those in need.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

There are two ways that those who are able can do this. You can volunteer your time, to work in the warehouses, distributing the food, taking on organisational roles. All opportunities can be found on the Trussell Trust website.

The second way to help, is to donate food. Over 90 per cent of the food distributed by food banks in the Trussell Trust network is donated by the public – which is why it is so essential this continues.

You can take food directly to your local food bank – which you can find here – or you can leave food at the collection point in your local supermarket. For advice on the best products to donate, visit the organisation’s website.

Social Bite

Social Bite is a Scottish charity which runs a number of projects to help end homelessness. This year, you can donate “a Christmas of Kindness” which will help provide a homeless person with Christmas dinner, a Christmas gift, a pack of essential items and a bed for the night.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

You can also donate a gift, which can be dropped off at St Andrew Square in Edinburgh, where you’ll find Social Bite’s Tree of Kindness.

The opening hours of the tree are Monday to Wednesday 12 pm to 4 pm and Thursday to Sunday, 11 am to 7 pm. You can find volunteering opportunities with Social Bite on its website.

Charity Shops

If you’ve decided to have a clear out this month, in preparation for new toys, books and gadgets, don’t throw it all away! Donate donate donate!

There are loads of charity shops around Edinburgh supporting loads of amazing causes. You can donate your things that could help raise much needed money.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Also, charity shops are full to the brim of unique, fun and much loved items that could make the perfect gift for someone this year.

The Leith Exchange

The Leith Exchange, in the Ocean Terminal runs a coat exchange for people who need a winter jacket - so if you have any you don’t wear anymore, definitely donate!

They are also on the look out for people to donate Christmas decorations for them to pass on, and also school uniforms. Find all the details you need on its website.

Get super local

Sometimes you can make the most difference by just watching out for your neighbours. Tis the season to pop a Christmas card through their letter box with your number on the bottom offering help, or even just a chat.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Do you have any elderly neighbours, or anyone who may struggle with mobility, particularly in this icy weather? Do they need someone to pop to the shops for them? Someone to grit their driveway? Are they warm enough?

Christmas can be a marvellous, colourful and magical time for many, but a sad, difficult and lonely time for others. Just taking the time to talk to people, bring a smile to their face, you can do incredible things. Is there someone you know spending Christmas alone? Do you have a spare chair at your table?

By reaching out to people in your block of flats, your street, your cul-de-sac, you could change someone’s life, and your own.

If you need help… reach out

If you need help this Christmas, here are a few organisations and numbers you can contact.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

If you need to use a food bank, you can find your local one on the Trussell Trust website. They also have a helpline that you can call – 0808 208 2138.

The Leith Collective has a coat exchange – where if you are in need of a winter coat, you can go to them and just take one. No questions asked.

They can be found in Ocean Terminal and their opening hours are Monday to Friday, 10 am to 6 pm, Saturday 10 am to 6 pm and Sunday, 11 am to 5 pm.

If you are struggling emotionally this Christmas and need someone to talk to, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Edinburgh Women’s Aid can be contacted on 0131 315 8110, and the national contact number is 0800 027 1234.

If you are struggling with the energy crisis and are worried you can’t pay bills, reach out to Citizens Advice which has a list of options on its website.

In Scotland, you have the right to access free period products, and a list of where you can get there can be found on the council website.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.