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Heads Up Cheltenham raises awareness with the 12 days of Christmas giving challenge

Cheltenham community is encouraged to give this December and begins with volunteers and Father Christmas packing activity bags for local children.

The Heads Up Cheltenham 12 days of Christmas giving challenge, launched on Wednesday, December 1 at the Municipal Offices, beginning with volunteers from Cheltenham Borough Council and Heads Up partners including Cheltenham Borough Homes and the Samaritans giving their time to lend a hand alongside special guest, Father Christmas.

Cheltenham residents are being encouraged to join in with the challenge by mental health project, Heads Up Cheltenham who aim to remind people how important it is to look after their mental health and show how small acts of giving can have a positive impact on wellbeing.

The challenge kicks off with over 1,200 activity bags being packed by volunteers at the Municipal Offices, along with the help of Father Christmas, all for local children who are on free school meals or facing extra challenges this Christmas, thanks to the Holiday Activity and Food Fund programme.

Councillor Victoria Atherstone, cabinet member for culture, wellbeing and business, said: ''I'm really excited to be part of this activity, it's a great way of giving back and definitely gives you the feel-good factor. I'd encourage everyone to think of ways in the run up to Christmas that they can give, especially in the wake of Covid-19. The isolation and loneliness that many people may feel can be helped by giving your time and reaching out to others.''

The challenge offers other simple ideas to help each other as well as individual wellbeing:

1. It's good to talk and listen - don't just text, pick up the phone and have a chat.

2. Smiles are free - as you pass someone on the street, greet them with a smile.

3. Check on your neighbours - are they warm and well or is there anything they might need?

4. Donate to others - declutter and contribute to a local food bank or animal shelter.

5. Fresh air feels good - invite a friend for a walk, perhaps with a flask or a café cuppa.

6. Help with the Christmas shopping - take someone's list or invite them along for company.

7. Say hello on the doorstep - when you drop off your Christmas cards.

8. Singing is good for the soul - arrange carols or festive songs in your street.

9. Offer your help - can you help with someone's Christmas preparations?

10. Give your time - volunteer with a local charity.

11. Connect - reach out to someone who might be isolated or lonely.

12. Share with others - join in with a community Christmas activity.

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