While Christmas is always a great time of year to look back on the things you’ve done that you’re genuinely proud of, I think it’s worthwhile putting just as much though into what more you can do – whether as an individual or a business. In 2019, RIFT has been leaning hard into our charity partnerships and work. By teaming up with organisations like The Lighthouse Club and ABF: The Soldiers’ Charity, we’re actively pushing to bring real change to people’s lives, and the platforms we’ve been able to build alongside these charities mean we’re able to spread awareness further and wider than ever. Of course, as a tax company, we’re always going to be beating the Christmas drum as hard as possible about HMRC refunds. After all, it’s during the festive season that people often struggle the most with their finances – and an average tax refund can usually more than cover the costs they’re facing.

Not everyone in need of help is a tax refund customer, naturally. Even so, we’ve found there’s a great deal we can do to help people in need in our local community and beyond. This year, I’d like to thank Siobhan Zipfel, our R&D Operations Manager, for organising our staff donations to the Christmas Box appeal run by Danielle Perry.

This is an amazing scheme that was started in 2014 when Danielle collected 39 boxes of gifts from family and friends and delivered them to a local charity. Since then, the appeal has expanded impressively year-on-year, reaching over 400 boxes in 2018. This year, the gifts will be going to 17 domestic violence refuges, 3 children’s charities and a fostering service, all located in Kent and personally delivered by Danielle. It’s a wonderful initiative and we’re thrilled to be able to contribute to it.

You can see a video about the boxes here:

 

Next up, we’ve got our “50 Meals” programme, in which we’re paying for 50 Christmas meals to be delivered to homeless and vulnerable people in our local community. We’re doing this to coincide with our RIFT Christmas party, sharing our seasonal celebrations with those otherwise left, literally and figuratively, out in the cold. The meals will be provided by FFF Catering, who provide the food for our own monthly “Feel Good Friday” events. FFF will also be making a contribution by donating both their time to run the 50 Meals event and by committing to offering year-round weekly meals for Ashford’s homeless.

Finally, I’ll be volunteering one night per week at the Ashford Together Winter Night Shelter between now and March. RIFT has been collecting food donations for the shelter from our staff, and volunteering is an opportunity to get personally invested in giving back to the local community. Now in its 5th season, the shelter aims to provide support, compassion and hope to local vulnerable people, helping them to engage with other support agencies and forge a better future. The shelters, run by Ashford Churches, provide a hot evening meal and breakfast, and can even take people somewhere they can get warm food during the day. However, they can only operate thanks to the contributions of volunteers. They provide training and guidelines, and take the safety of both their guests and their volunteers extremely seriously. Last year alone, they provided 972 safe nights’ sleep and meals, with volunteers’ contributions of time being valued at an incredible £44,418.75 at Minimum Wage rates. Even local councilors have been contributing, sponsoring beds from their discretionary “good works” budgets.

The Ashford together Winter Night Shelter opens on the 16th of December and runs until the 15th of March 2020. Contact them on 01233 667565 or ashfordwintershelter@gmail.com to get involved. You can also find them on Facebook at or Twitter.

It’s all too easy to get so wrapped up in the fine details of our own family Christmas plans that we lose sight of the bigger picture. Giving to charity, whether in money, food or your personal time, is more than just an empty gesture. It’s an opportunity to make an investment in your community’s most valuable asset – its people. Every year, with each new initiative, that opportunity only grows.

On behalf of RIFT – and myself – I’d like you wish you all a very merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Jan Post, Chairman of RIFT