YESS, I spontaneously booked a trip to London – UK. I had two days off from work and loved to go away shortly. London is close-by and my hearts bursts with energy for the holidays (I am a sucker for Christmas) so the choice was made in a second. After I booked, I reached out to Help Refugees as I knew they were opening a Christmas store for the holidays. I asked to join as a volunteer and I got 3 replies from different people they welcomed me to come over and help. So I did and many more!

Choose Love Store

I had a good breakfast in the morning, just across Covent Garden, and then went to the store of Choose Love. The area was so beautifully decorated! Right after I arrived many people came up to me to welcome me, introduce themselves and give me a little tour around the store. I got handed out a branded sweater and went to work. Our role? As volunteers enthusiasm visitors, explain the way the store works and tell them stories of the refugees. Next to that, I held myself responsible for folding and updating the merchandise department (sweats, tee’s and shoppers). It was lots of fun, as the vibe within the team was so good and supportive, good music played and every visitor got enthusiastic about the concept. Some had a hard time picking a donation, some chose to pick the whole store and others gave the donation as a Christmas gift. Stepping into the store as a stranger and shortly feeling like a part of a super bright, motivating group is so magnificent. It’s the most fulfilling part of volunteering. It’s hard to not enjoy the good energy and vibe in the store, and you could see the visitors really felt it too.

Working in the Choose Love store that day resulted in a turnover of 14K and a super super proud feeling. I met over 30 different volunteers, working for Apple, Salesforce, Help Refugees org, actors, activists and enthusiastic volunteers who worked in France or Greece before. And I am so thankful for that! I finished the day with a visit of Cat, the girl I met during my time in Calais, and we had dinner and a beer together.

Christmas Carol for the Sick Children’s Trust

When I left the airport, I took a 20 minute train ride to the city centre. During the trip I read through a newspaper and found a advertisement of the Christmas Carol. I took a photo of it and the next morning, during breakfast, I made my plans and booked a ticket. It turned out to be close by and easy to buy a ticket. The Christmas Carol started at 18:30h and it was a full house. During one-and-a-half-hour we got different songs, multiple stories and even cabaret. It was such a delightful evening. The most inspiring story came from the mother of Mable, who told about her pregnancy, her sick baby and the way the family was supported by staying in a Home from Home by the Sick Children’s Trust. Being surrounded by her family as well as other families going through the same difficulties, made them hold on and eventually their daughter got healthier. A hopeful and realistic story that touched many hearts.

After the Christmas Carol, there was time for a glass of wine and a mince pie which I enjoyed with two ladies sitting next to me.