Simon Dowling, Marketing and Communications Officer at WCVA, has revisited one of his most popular blogs for #WelshCharitiesWeek and updated his list of Christmas gift ideas that support organisations doing great things in Wales.
I last updated this blog in 2020 – a weird and difficult year when COVID-19 had made its presence known to us, and when voluntary organisations in Wales saw their income slashed overnight while demand for their services sky-rocketed.
In 2022, the future remains bleak. While some big businesses have seen their profits continue to rise, the struggle for voluntary organisations (who are often on the front line) is plain for all to see, with the recession predicted ‘to cost the charity sector £2.2bn’ over the next two years.
Meanwhile, recent figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) suggest more and more households are feeling the pinch, so they’ll pay 90% more for gas, electricity and other fuels than the previous year. With food price inflation rising from 14.6% to 16.4% – its highest level since 1977 – the support of voluntary organisations will be needed more than ever.
So, it feels even more important that this Christmas list is updated so we can use our buying power for good and #MakeABiggerDifferenceTogether in Wales. Below are some suggestions for different ways to shop this Christmas that will put a smile on your face while putting money in the hands of those that are helping others.
SUPPORT PEOPLE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE BY BUYING SOCIAL THIS CHRISTMAS
The gifts and shopping suggestions below aren’t only helping the local economy, they are directly supporting charities and social enterprises in Wales tackling a range of issues. I’ll be challenging myself this year to see how much of my Xmas shopping I can get from charities. If you’re looking to do the same hopefully these present ideas are a good starting point!
1. THE BEAUTY OF WELSH CRAFTSMANSHIP
The charity Makers Guild Wales curates, commissions and sells unique contemporary objects rooted in craftsmanship. Their aim is to inspire craft engagement, support Welsh craft makers and celebrate craft excellence.
With a Guild of 90 makers, there is a wealth of unique and beautiful handmade craft from Wales to choose from that is never mass produced and always an original! Jewellery, Glass, Ceramics and much more.You can be confident that, when you buy from them, you are supporting Welsh Makers and supporting the promotion and preservation of craft skills both in Wales and internationally.
2. CHRISTMAS PRESENTS FOR YOUR CANINE FRIENDS
Hope Rescue is a small independent dog welfare charity in South Wales. Their online shop has a selection of Christmas gifts including festive treats and toys for your dogs and Christmas Cards and sweaters for you.
You can also buy a Hope Rescue calendar with delightful photos of the dogs that have been rescued by Hope. Proceeds help Hope to rescue dogs in need in South Wales and provide canine respite schemes which support owners in crisis (such as domestic abuse, homelessness or hospitalisation) to keep their pets.
3. LUXURY WASH PRODUCTS FROM WALES
Good Wash is a Welsh social enterprise donating their profits to local projects that improve the lives of animals and people. They stock a number of high-end luxury wash products such as soaps, body lotion, shower products and gifts sets, sourced from only the very finest natural ingredients that are cruelty free.
Profits from Good Wash support charities, groups or individuals to deliver projects relating to homelessness, poverty, social exclusion, animal welfare and more. Good Wash products are available in a number of stores throughout Wales and online.
Myddfai Trading Company Limited is another social enterprise, but with a specific mission to provide employment and volunteering opportunities within the local community in Carmarthenshire. Their ‘innovative, environmentally friendly and original’ products include soaps, shower gels, shampoo and conditioner, hand wash, hand and body lotion, bath bombs and diffusers and candles, as well as a range of Christmas gift sets.
Sales from the online shop fund their work providing volunteering opportunities for vulnerable so they can gain work experience, social interaction and confidence in a safe and comfortable working environment.
4. THE ‘WONDER OF WALES’ & SAILING THE SEVEN SEAS
The National Botanic Garden of Wales is a charity dedicated to the research and conservation of biodiversity, to sustainability, lifelong learning and the enjoyment of visitors.
The garden is the most visited in Wales and there are lots of things to see and do beyond the beautiful gardens including a range of activities and the British Bird of Prey Centre.
You can purchase gift tickets to the gardens or gift vouchers (which can used at the cafes, restaurant or shop) or a combination of the two. You can purchase these from the online shop as well as a selection of items including beauty products, jewellery. Books and stationery and gardeners’ gifts.
Another activity-based gift comes from Challenge Wales. The Charity offers an ‘exhilarating big boat sailing experience’ for someone who might fancy taking the helm of a round-the-world racing yacht. Gift vouchers are available (the experience is for adults up to the age of 85 years) and no experience is necessary.
Profits go directly into Challenge Wales’ innovative outdoor learning activities at sea with disadvantaged young people, improving their mental health, expanding their employability skills, and helping broaden their horizons to achieve their full potential.
5. SEASONAL GIFTS FROM VISION 21
Vision 21 is a social enterprise that offers ‘realistic work-based training opportunities for people with learning needs’. All Vision 21 products are made with the full involvement of trainees and all proceeds are fed directly back into the charity.
Their ‘buy social’ products include a range of garden and plant goods, pottery and crafts, and wooden furniture, available at various Vision 21 shops throughout Cardiff and Barry. Visit the Vision 21 website for more information and locations. It’s best to call ahead as some of their activities have been limited by the pandemic.
6. ECO-FRIENDLY GIFTS FOR ALL THE FAMILY FROM THE CENTRE FOR ALTERNATIVE TECHNOLOGY
The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) is an educational charity dedicated to researching and communicating positive solutions for environmental change.
Their online store has a MASSIVE range of products (too many to list here!) that are eco-friendly and high quality. This includes textiles (such as comfortable bamboo socks), garden gear (like bird boxes and seeds), books to support you in your endeavours to learn and be more kind to the planet, eco-friendly homeware (eg toiletries, cleaning products and cookware), and kids games, puzzles and toys (including recycled soft toys – and their learning through play collection).
You can also buy someone CAT membership which includes free entry to their visitor centre (though check opening times before visiting). Buying a gift from CAT helps support positive solutions to the challenge of climate change.
7. ZERO WASTE SHOPPING
Zero waste shopping is getting popular in Wales. Awesome Wales, the Vale’s first zero waste shop, has a shop right in the heart of Barry and in Cowbridge, and you can also choose from other places like Y Tŷ Gwyrdd, Denbigh.
A plastic free shopping experience offers products that are environmentally friendly and ethically produced. Both companies also recycle profits back into the business and invest in local community groups and activities, allowing more people to get involved while decreasing social isolation.
8. FOOD AND DRINK FROM WALES
There are lots of tasty gifts to choose from this Christmas. Câr-y-Môr, which is the first community-owned regenerative ocean farm in Wales, includes a seafood processing and retail operation that grows and sells different native seaweed and shellfish species. This includes fantastic products like sea spaghetti, sea truffle oil and even seaweed fertilizer.
Profits are reinvested into the community benefit society, which is owned equally by all its members and membership.
Cardiff-based Manumit Coffee Roasters is one of several small coffee independents that seek to make a difference in their community. Whether you choose from a one-off coffee purchase or a regular subscription, this company offers dignity and hope to survivors of modern slavery through training and employment. Sourcing ethical coffee beans, their coffee is roasted by men and women who have been exploited by modern slave traders and are now rebuilding their lives. All profits are put back into local and global anti-slavery initiatives.
Cwrw Ial is a community ale brewing company from north east Wales, which produces the highest quality beer and works in collaboration with other local business, artists and social enterprises. Shipped anywhere in Great Britain, it also has free deliveries in Denbighshire Flintshire and Wrexham.
LOOKING FOR MORE IDEAS FOR #PRESENTSWITHPURPOSE?
The festive folks at Social Enterprise UK have once again produced a #PresentsWithPurpose Gift Guide, an entire magazine full of Christmas gift ideas from Social Enterprises in the UK. Browse this handy guide online at socialenterprise.org.uk/campaigns/christmas.
Who did we miss? Know a socially conscious Welsh gift that didn’t make the list? Let us know! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you involved in a social enterprise? WCVA funds Social Enterprises through our Social Investment Cymru team, please get in touch to find out more.