14 Feb 2017

5 Charitable Things to do in Birmingham for Valentine’s Day

By Ashleigh Mills

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It’s no surprise that LoveBrum loves Valentine’s Day, but it’s not because of all the gifts we’re expecting our flock of secret admirers to shower us with (chocolate and wine is the way forward). It is because Valentine’s Day is committed to celebrating love. When you strip away all the commercial drivel that Valentine’s Day has become strongly associated with and ignore all the pinks, silvers and reds that appear to have taken over Birmingham’s very own New Street, it is a day where you show appreciation for those who are important in your life – and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a romantic love either. You can celebrate the platonic love you have for your closest friends, and the love you have for your family.

Mythology surrounding Valentine’s Day suggests that this particular day was named after a roman Priest, St Valentine who was executed on 14th February 270 A.D. Emperor Claudius had banned engagement and marriage in Rome as he felt that wives and girlfriends hindered his soldiers’ ability to fight in the Roman War. St Valentine believed in the sanctity of true love and marriage, and continued to marry couples in secret until he was found out. On the day of his untimely demise he left a note to his friend that was signed, “from your Valentine”.

In 2016 it was estimated that £958 million was spent on Valentine’s day, and at LoveBrum we can’t help but think that people are forgetting the true meaning of spreading the love. So, why not try something new and spread the love by undertaking some voluntary work in Birmingham, or give up some free time to charities based in Birmingham? There are so many non-commercialist things you can do to spread the love in Birmingham that will make a difference to at least one person, and Valentine’s Day is a great place to start.

Do a Random Act of Kindness

Valentine’s Day falls right in the middle of #RAKWeek2017 (February 12-18), so cover Birmingham in kindness like it’s glitter and make it sparkle. When you perform a random act of kindness, you are performing a spontaneous and inconsistent action that gives kindness to the outside world.

The phrase, “random act of kindness” comes from the phrase, “practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty”, written on a placemat by Anne Herbert. A random act of kindness is something as simple as complimenting someone’s hair style, donating to a local Birmingham charity or giving someone a flower, with the only motive to spread love and make someone smile. From decluttering your house and giving it to a charity, or doing one off voluntary work in Birmingham, a random act of kindness will spread that sweet love like nutella on toast.

Write a Letter to Compliment a Stranger

In 2013, Birmingham’s very own Jodi Bickley spoke the language of kindness and spread the love when she began writing feel good letters to strangers. Her project, One Million Lovely Letters showed us just how beautiful a few kind words can be, and since 2013 she’s written and sent 3,000 lovely letters across the globe. Jodi began to spread love all over the world, one letter at a time.

If you’re feeling inspired to write some lovely things to a stranger, then pick up that pen and paper, write what you have to say and send it to One Million Lovely Letters, where they’ll forward the love on to someone who really needs it.

Start Befriending at a Care Home

It is no secret that loneliness is an issue for the elderly, and according to Age UK, 200,000 older people say that they haven’t had a conversation with friends or family in over a month. 3.9 million older people agree that the television is their main form of company. Loneliness can distort someone’s way of thinking and make them vulnerable to addiction – it is important to try and combat the loneliness going on in not just Birmingham, but the world.

As Valentine’s Day celebrates love, visit your local Elderly home with home-baked (or purchased if baking is not your forte) heart shaped cookies, red velvet cupcakes and Valentine’s cards. You could also sign up to a befriending service, where you can provide companionship to an elderly person on a regular basis. You might even find that they become as important to you, as you are to them. There are plenty of volunteering opportunities in Birmingham when it comes to care homes, you just have to find the right one for you.

Become a Member of LoveBrum

We know, another shameless LoveBrum plug – but where else can you become a member and be able to support lots of local Birmingham charities, and local Birmingham businesses whilst spreading the love for your local community? For as little as £1.67 a month, you can support charities based in Birmingham, get exclusive access to charity networking events in Birmingham and a wear a cool pin badge that will make you look like a cool pokémon trainer – do you need anymore convincing?

Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen

Volunteering at a soup kitchen to give hot meals to the vulnerable shouldn’t be reserved for just Christmas. Soup kitchens rely on volunteers to help them give back to those who really need it. It is believed that there are 100,000 children living in poverty in Birmingham, and the amount of rough sleepers is thought to have doubled in the last year.

Joining a soup kitchen such as FoodCycle means that you will be helping someone who really needs it, and showing them the love and kindness they deserve. Soup kitchens hold more importance than just providing food – they break social isolation barriers and are a safe haven for people to talk about the issues that really affect them. Since 2009, FoodCycle has provided 125,000 meals. So why not sign up today?

By Kavita Dhaliwal, Rice Media – service patron of LoveBrum.

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