No care leaver should be alone on Christmas Day.
For many of us, Christmas is family time, an opportunity to get together with our nearest and dearest, and like it or lump it spend time together over the festive period. But what about those without family? What does Christmas mean to them?
Care leavers often have no one else to turn to, some having spent most of their lives in local authority care, detached from their family for a number of reasons. At this time of year, the feeling of loneliness is only intensified.
Back in 2013, Poet Lemn Sissay MBE wanted to ensure that no care leaver aged between 18 and 24 would be alone on Christmas Day. The Christmas Dinner Project was founded in Manchester and has since been growing in other cities. The first in Leeds took place in 2015. Local communities across the UK now put on Christmas Day dinners for these young people, so that they are not alone and that they know their local community is a family to share and to care.
This collaboration is supported by volunteer care professionals, creatives, mechanics, doctors and teachers who want to come together to help. They wrap gifts, collect donations of food, dress up the venues, help to cook and even help to provide some entertainment. Most of all, they want to be there to give some of society’s most vulnerable people a day to remember and enjoy.
This week the focus is on gifts for the care leavers to open on the day. To help with this the Project has set up an Amazon wishlist. To make this affordable for many, some of the gifts are only a few pounds. You can see this list online here: amzn.eu/4gv9qDr This is the final week to buy gifts so if you can help in any way then you need to act quickly.
You can find out more about the project on Lemn Sissay’s blog: lemnsissay.com
You can also see some photos of what’s been done so far on the projects Facebook page: facebook.com/TheChristmasDinnerLeeds
We are aware that at this time of year everywhere you look there is another worthy cause to help and sadly we can’t help them all. If you are unable to buy a gift then please share it with your network. Maybe some of your contacts can.