As you know, The Happiness Project London believes that as well as making the most out of your time doing fun stuff; to be truly happy, you should fit in some time to help others. This is especially important given that more and more of us are unhappy nowadays as highlighted by this recent Sunday Times article.
But let’s be realistic – we work long hours; book our evenings and weekends up weeks in advance to see friends and partners; and with our remaining free time we try to squeeze in yoga classes, gym sessions, shopping, calling mum.
However, New Year is about making changes to your life and these can be as small as you like to fit in with your busy lifestyles. The Evening Standard recently published an artice called “Let’s eat, drink, shop – and give to others“, where it encouraged people to think of others over Christmas and quoted the Archbishop of Westminster’s recent sermon where he said that “real happiness comes from family, friends and community, not status and things.”
I’m in no position to be preachy (and, having recently hit the sales pretty hard, I know that there is some happiness that comes from “things”), but The Happiness Project London is trying to help the wider community as part of my Rules, and I have therefore come up with some simple, easy ways to help:
1. Unwanted Christmas presents
An embroidered tissue box holder? Thanks!
You can of course give away on Freecyle or Gumtree, or sell on ebay (for charity if you like), but I’ve found these to can take time and effort, and you often have no idea who you are giving stuff to.
- So, take random gifts to your local charity shop – they’ll be very pleased to get them.
- Toiletries (especially dentist stuff, shower gels, shampoos and razors) would be really helpful to homeless shelters (see St Mungos or the Waterloo Christian Mission) or other charities where people pop in to get shelter (for example The Refugee Council).
- Many charities including homeless hostels and shelters for victims of domestic violence and refugees, including The Refugee Council, would love clothes, shoes, toys, colouring pens, etc too – just call first to check that they have room as some have more than they need already.
2. Donate old furniture
and other organisations
including Mencap, Trinity Homeless, Salvation Army, Homestore Tower Hamlets
and Furniture Aid South Thames
will come and pick up your old furniture and electricals for free and donate to charities or people who need it.
An Evening Standard article on this received a lot of negative comments that this was harder than it sounded, but the alternatives aren’t great. You can sell on ebay, but I’ve had problems lately with moaning buyers. The council always takes a while to pick your stuff up, and you might get in trouble for leaving it out in the street. You also might not want to go through the hassle of giving stuff away on gumtree or freecycle (Londonders can be strangely picky when enquiring about free items).
I LOVE the premise of this new Edinburgh-based website. ihave.org.uk asked charities what they need and the answers are refreshingly specific and simple – a spare amp, children’s books, volunteer drivers, advertising space, digital cameras, pet food, white boards, blood.
You can give as little as you like, as often as you like, which means it can be fitted into your busy lifestyle. I can’t be the only one that has hordes of stuff gathering dust that I’d be happy to donate – old cameras, frizbees, plant pots, photo frames, paint…. It is currently Scotland-centric but they are hoping to expand – hopefully it will get to London soon.