Christmas is a challenging time for all of us. We get stuck in a whirlwind of chaos! From Christmas shopping, sales, social events, work commitments, parties, family gatherings and thinking about the year ahead as well as reflecting. We can fall into a trap where we focus in on all the chaos in our own lives forgetting the people around us who may be suffering in silence. 

Last year I launched my Believe-A-Bear campaign, whereby people could purchase a bear which would be personalised with it's own name & positive quote to send to someone in hospital or they knew was going through a tough time at Christmas. The money's raised went to my two chosen charities: Invisiyouth & Lyme Disease U.K. To give people a little mascot, a friend to prove they aren't alone. That is a big, BIG thing for me. I hate to think that people are alone. I spent years in a fog, feeling lost & alone. Unable to really know who I could reach out to, who would understand. I know the pain, I have felt it myself & it's heart-breaking . If I can do my bit to help people KNOW that there are people here to support them then I can rest happy. It doesn't have to be huge, massive gestures. Kindness costs nothing remember, positivity spread like wild fire & smiles are infectious. A smile, a hug, a quick phone call could make someone day or even WEEK.  It is really important to listen to people's stories. Listen to their advice, wise words to carry with us as a tool kit in our own every day lives.

So, this year I decided to get my old school involved & their students as well as our park residents. To work together on actitivies, interact, have fun and really make the weeks of the residents that attend. To prove that they aren't alone at Christmas, they can still have fun & deserve fun but also just talking to the students helps the students come away with a new mindset. A better understanding of life, it's journey & the true meaning of Christmas. Yesterday was our first meet up & we hosted a quiz at Acresfield. It was a huge success & everyone had an amazing, FUN time. The residents simply can't wait for next weeks chocolate log decorating. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO CAME OUT AND SUPPORTED, IT MEANS THE WORLD. 

Remember, you can do YOUR bit this Christmas too. Here are some ideas:

1. Don't do Christmas cards. What you spend on Christmas cards you can give the money to a charity of your choice. Alternatively you can buy Christmas cards that are in support of a charity. 

2. Homeless shelters accept old scarves, gloves, hats and coats to give out to the homeless. Anything you can spare can really go a long way. 

3. The shoebox campaign. I used to LOVE doing this at school where you build up a showbox full of goodies to send around the world to children in need. 

4. Donate, give back in anyway you can. This can be by having a wardrobe clear out and donating clothes, volunteering, offering your time and donating money to your chosen charity. 

5. Call a friend. Call that person you know is going through a rough time. Allow them to vent. Allow them to seek comfort in opening up to us. 

6. Drop round for coffees and a chat or even take your loved one or an elderly person you know is alone, out for coffee and cake. NOBOBY can say no to cake. 

7. Donate to the food banks. We all have those tins of soups, beans and sauces in our cupboards we bought but haven't got around to using them. Every little helps remember. 

8.If you know someone who is local and alone on Christmas, invite them round. One extra person to cook for isn't too much trouble but could be life-changing to someone. 

9. A hug can go a long way. Sometimes words aren't needed a hug tells you thousands of times over that you are there for that person. 

10. Write! Write to people you know may be lonely. Strike  up a relationship. Which doesn't just help the person do an activity  that will take some of their time up, that for sure some days feels endless. They will appreciate the pen-pal friendship. If they can't get out, can't talk well and so on sometimes writing is the best way for people to communicate. 

There is so many ways to help, so many ways you can give back - big and small it all costs.