These are uncertain times. The government continues to fall dangerously short in the wake of the cost of living crisis, control is changing hands and policies are dropping off as quickly as James Corden is getting barred and unbarred from Balthazaar. We’re hurtling toward a recession at a time when people have never trusted those in charge less (that’s *really* saying something), so more of us are looking for ways to take matters into our own hands. We’re not talking about a full-scale revolution (unfortunately), but there are things that individuals can do to help those in need. Whether it’s volunteering at your local food bank or working a shift for a mental wellness text line, here are some suggestions on how to get involved.

Food banks – Food inflation recently rose by 14.6% to its highest level in four decades, and food parcels are reaching record levels of demand. Trussell Trust, the UK’s largest food bank network, has set out to deliver 1.3 million emergency food parcels over the next six months, as well as call for urgent action from Downing Street. You can support that drive by volunteering at your nearest food bank, find it here.

Streetlink – As many struggle to make ends meet, there’s the risk that more people will sleep rough for the first time. Meanwhile, the cost of living crisis is putting strain on the resources available to those already experiencing homelessness. It’s good to know about StreetLink, an online charity that connects homeless people with local services that can support them. You can send an alert via their website if you’re concerned about someone sleeping rough, or volunteer to provide direct support.

The Disabilities Trust – People with disabilities are among some of the hardest hit by the cost of living crisis as their living costs are already higher – nearly £600 higher on average according to disability equality charity Scope. There are various ways you can volunteer your time to provide essential care and support for people with disabilities, the Disabilities Trust can connect you to your nearest volunteering opportunity.

Refugee Community Kitchen – Refugee Community Kitchen specialise in providing hot, nourishing meals to displaced people, with outposts in Camden Town, Archway, Goodge Street and Hackney. They accept volunteers for a range of roles and you can apply here.

Rhythms of Life – Set up by Andrew Faris who used to be homeless himself, Rhythms of Life provides meals, essential toiletries, clothing and sleeping bags, as well as offers classes on literacy, I.T. and life skills, to those experiencing homelessness. They’re looking for volunteer drivers, food producers, food distributors and more, find out how you can get involved here.

Shout – Shout is a free, confidential, 24/7 mental health support line that operates over text. You can offer immediate help to anyone feeling anxious, stressed, depressed, suicidal or overwhelmed by becoming a volunteer from the comfort of your home, find out how here.

Nightstop – A programme by Depaul UK (which supports young people experiencing homelessness or at risk of becoming homeless), Nightstop connects young people with nowhere to stay with people who can host them in a spare room. As young people are disproportionately affected by the cost of living crisis, more and more are at risk of going without a roof over their heads. If you do have the space to host, you can find out how Nightstop works here.

Action for Children – The latest figures, which show that 1 in 4 children live in poverty in the UK, are set to worsen as the crisis bites. Action for Children protects and supports young children and their families, as well as campaigns to bring lasting improvements to their lives. With roles ranging from supporting young asylum seekers to providing admin support, you can find out how to volunteer here.


Befriending – With winter approaching, S.A.D. looming and Christmas on the way, people struggling with loneliness will be facing some tough times. Befriending is a network of charities (including Age UK) that work to support those people by connecting them with Befrienders. If you want to shine a little light in someone’s life, you can find out how to get involved here.

FoodCycle – FoodCycle works to combat food poverty, food waste and loneliness by providing community meals using surplus food. They hold tens of meals every week and you can support them as a hosting, check-in and chat, cooking or food collection volunteer. Get all the details here.

Crisis – With the festive season fully underway, Crisis at Christmas is back and in need of volunteers. This year, the charity will be providing hotel accommodation for more than 400 people who would otherwise be sleeping rough, so they’re looking for hotel assistant volunteers, chefs, doctors, nurses, barbers and general volunteers to help run the initiative. If you have some spare time on your hands, here’s how to get involved.

If you’re looking for even more volunteering opportunities, browse the HandsOn London database.