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Where to donate Christmas presents in the UK, from children’s hospitals to care homes

As we gear up for a season of giving, Juliana Piskorz introduces a Secret Santa with a difference

Thursday 09 December 2021 13:54 GMT
Christmas presents
Christmas presents (Getty Images)

While Christmas 2020 was largely cancelled due to the coronavirus lockdown, Christmas 2021 is set to go ahead with plenty of jingle bells and whistles.

However, families across the country are struggling to pay for the festive season. According to debt help charity StepChange Debt Help, just under half (45%) of those celebrating Christmas said they will be able to comfortably afford festive spending this year.

Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed by the charity said rising household costs were driving them to borrow money in order to pay for Christmas, while a quarter cited reduced income and 16 per cent said they recently lost the temporary uplift of Universal Credit.

A further 12 per cent of people said the end of Covid-19 support measures, such as the furlough scheme, meant they had to turn to borrowing.

As a result of these statistics, and the sense of community further fostered during 2021, those of us who have weathered the pandemic with our jobs and livelihoods still intact may wish to donate a gift to those less fortunate this year. 

If so, The Independent has curated a guide to the best charities and organisations accepting gifts for children and vulnerable adults across the UK this Christmas so you can get gifting.

The Sick Children’s Trust

The charity provides family members with free accommodation while their sick child receives treatment in hospital. This year they are accepting gift donations to their “Home from Homes”, which can then be distributed among family members and poorly children in hospital. 

Recommended gifts include art supplies, books, chocolates, treats and board games among others.

Donate here.

The Salvation Army

One of the most established present donation funds, the Salvation Army, will be distributing Christmas presents to children around the UK who would not otherwise receive a present. 

Suggested presents include dolls and teddy bears for younger children and makeup, clothes and books for teenagers.

Donate to your nearest Salvation Army.


Homelessness charity Crisis will be accepting gifts at their various shelters across the UK. London shelters are already accepting donations and the rest of the UK will follow shortly. 

Each shelter has a tailored wish list of items available to buy from Amazon.

Find out more here.


Give the gift of friendship this year and help tackle the loneliness and isolation faced by many older people, made more acute by lockdown. 

Don’t worry you don’t have to put anyone at risk either, MHA (Methodist Homes) have launched a virtual friendship appeal. Send a resident in care a virtual Christmas card and personalised message.

Reach out here.

(Getty Images)


Buy a present for a woman or child fleeing domestic abuse this Christmas. Lockdown led to soring numbers of domestic violence cases, many victims escaping homes with nothing but the clothes on their back. 

Help ease their burden by donating some of Refuge’s recommended gifts.

Buy a gift here.

Action for Children

Before coronavirus more than four million children in the UK were living in poverty, that figure is even higher now. Become a Secret Santa and make a gift donation on behalf of yourself or one of your friends to a vulnerable child.

Donate here.

Feeding Families

Feeding Families provides food and resources to families experiencing poverty in the north east of England. 

Over the Christmas period Feeding Families will take requests for food hampers from families in need and match them up with volunteers willing to donate the ingredients to make a Christmas Dinner.

Donate a hamper here.


Support a young homeless person by buying them the gift of a Christmas dinner, a small gift, a set of toiletries or a warm bed to sleep in for the night

Find out more here.

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