Community projects to support this Christmas
Investing in our communities has never been more important than it is at the end of 2020. If you'd like to donate your time or money to a local project, we've got some suggestions of where to start
Ubuntu Women Shelter
Ubuntu Women Shelter offers shelter and support to women facing destitution in the face of the UK's unconscionable immigration system, and is run and managed by women with experience of forced migration and abuse. The work they do is so vital and life-changing, and they welcome both donations and volunteering support.
ubuntu-glasgow.org.uk [Anahit Behrooz]
Glasgow Zine Library
Glasgow Zine Library takes the democratising, communal power of zine-making to the max, providing not only a local creative hub with workshops and zine fairs, but plenty of opportunities to practise radical mutual aid. Organise! Make a collage! Tear down the system! Why not!
I love Shrub Coop, and not just because half my wardrobe comes from there. They offer a swap shop for gently used clothing – taking charity shopping to a whole new level – as well as groceries that would otherwise have been thrown away.
With the motto ‘solidarity not charity’, Helping Hands' ethos is people helping other people. The team of volunteers organise food banks, deliver hot meals to vulnerable people trapped at home because of COVID, run community fitness programmes, refurbish old bikes for young people in Edinburgh and are currently collecting toys to hand out this Christmas.
solidaritynotcharity.com [Jamie Dunn]
Grassmarket Community Project
Grassmarket Community Project does tonnes of good work right in the heart of Edinburgh. As well as a load of social enterprise ventures, training opportunities and an 'Open Door Meals' scheme that helps the homeless and vulnerably housed, there’s also the venue’s sharply curated Community Cinema programme that we can’t wait to see up and running again.
Leith Community Crops in Pots
Taking a neglected few acres of common good land at the edge of Leith Links, Leith Community Crops in Pots has turned this unloved patch into an ‘urban croft’, run by the Leith community who share their plant growing experience and skills. As well as educating kids about the natural world and giving locals ownership over an area of unused land, they also run the Market on the Croft, where they sell some of their tasty produce.
Dundee West End Community Fridge
Aimed at tackling the environmetal impact of food waste, this community fridge is open seven days a week on the Perth Road, just around the corner from Duncan of Jordanstone. It's open to be used by anyone, and no referral is needed since the objective is to pass on as much food that is approaching/just past its sell-by date as possible. [Laurie Presswood]
Paws for Progress
Paws for Progress is an organisation that helps humans and animals to grow through the positive effects that can result from dog-human relationships. Especially brilliant are their services and rescue dog training programmes based out of Polmont and Cornton Vale prisons.
Edinburgh Food Social
Throughout the pandemic, EFS have provided 65,000 meals through their Food for Good initiative. They put social impact at the heart of what they do, whether its cookery classes, hospitality apprenticeships or simply providing great food to people who need it. Plus, one way to support them is by grabbing a bottle of their very own gin, which... thumbs-up from us.
edinburghfoodsocial.org [Peter Simpson]
LOVE Gorgie Farm
The urban farm off Gorgie Road provides training, education, mental health support, a foodbank and a social enterprise cafe, as well as the chance to see a variety of farm animals up close and personal.
Edinburgh Food Project
Food banks shouldn't need to exist in 2020, but for as long as they do, they're worth our support. EFP run a network of food banks and collection points across the city; to support food banks more generally, check out the Trussell Trust and Independent Food Aid Network.
Glasgow Autonomous Space
Glasgow Autonomous Space (GAS) is an autonomous social centre in Glasgow, which supports and provides space for groups working to fight oppression. They have a busy programme of support, including weekly distribution of free food to destitute asylum seekers, and Arabic / English Language Exchange classes.
glasgowautonomous.weebly.com/support-us.html [Phoebe Willison]
Glasgow Womens Library
Glasgow Women’s Library is the UK's only dedicated library to women's lives, histories and achievements. As well as being a regular lending library and archive, they run a programme of events and workshops. They even have an exhibiton running until 17 December featuring acquisitions made during the pandemic.
womenslibrary.org.uk/how-to-get-involved/make-a-donation/ | @womenslibrary [PW]
Since 2015, Refuweegee have provided 5000 welcome packs to forcibly displaced people arriving in Glasgow. They aim to show new arrivals to the city the friendly welcome Glasgow's known for, by providing a vital starter pack, which even includes a 'Letter fae a Local'. You can help them by sharing your words, your time or donations, either in the form of money or items for the welcome packs.
refuweegee.co.uk | @refuweegee [PW]
Empty Kitchens, Full Hearts
Food poverty is a huge issue right now, exacerbated by the myriad outcomes of COVID-19. Based in the empty kitchen of Leith Theatre, Empty Kitchens, Full Hearts are a charity turning food waste into meals for people who need them. Since the start of lockdown, they've produced over a quarter of a million meals for vulnerable folk across Edinburgh. Help them by volunteering as a packer or deliverer, or donating to their crowdfunder.
emptykitchens.co.uk | @emptykitchens [Polly Glynn]
Supporting people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness with outreach, accommodation, skill development programmes across the Central Belt, Streework offer an essential service, particularly in the depths of a Scottish winter in lockdown. You can donate money to help them provide this, or volunteer your time. They also deliver the Period Friendly Project, providing free period products to women experiencing homelessness.
streetwork.org.uk [Rosamund West]
This charity uses creative approaches to foster a love of reading and writing in children from under-privileged backgrounds, working to improve Scotland’s frankly shocking child literacy rates. You can support them by volunteering your time and skills, or with donations to help their work in schools across Edinburgh.
The Children’s Wood and North Kelvin Meadow make up the last wild space in the West End of Glasgow. The charity's aim is to connect people to nature, raise aspirations and involve people in the management of the land. The mental and physical health implications of a disconnection from nature are increasingly well-documented – particularly in the time of lockdown. You can get involved in the community, donate, participate, walk your dog – free events range from outdoor learning through beekeeping and community gardening.
Scran Academy is a catering social enterprise set up to help provide young people in North Edinburgh with the opportunity to gain new skills and qualifications. From the end of March to the end of August they prepared and delivered over 114,000 hot meals to vulnerable people in the community who had been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Through volunteering or with a donation you can help fund their amazing work, or you could buy one of their Christmas hampers, with the majority of its contents made from scratch by Scran Academy's young people or staff team, and all proceeds go towards their programme of education for young people.
scranacademy.com [Tallah Brash]