Christmas Caring

“I was scared to come today. I didn’t know what to expect, but it’s been a great Christmas … chilled. I’ve not had a Christmas like this before, it’s been a family Christmas.” (Quotation from a young person who attended the Leeds Christmas Dinner, 2019).

Christmas can be a lonely and challenging time for many people for a variety of reasons. At this time of year, our focus in Leeds turns to our care experienced young people or care leavers and how collectively we can help make their Christmas a memorable one, for all the right reasons.


Lemn Sissay OBE, poet and author, founded The Christmas Dinner project in 2013 for communities to provide an amazing Christmas Day for care leavers aged 18 – 25 years old. Each dinner is organised locally by a steering group of people who come together to make the Christmas magic happen.  The Christmas Dinner project has run annually in Leeds since 2015 and you can find out more on their Facebook page.


Many of you will be aware of Steve Walker’s effort in supporting this good cause over the last few years and 2021 has been no exception. Steve completed a two-day 60 miles sponsored walk between, Leeds, Wakefield, Huddersfield, Halifax and Bradford. Steve said: “The weather was a little wintery and there were a few navigational errors but finished it in the end. There was some beautiful West Yorkshire scenery, a lot more uphill climbs then anticipated and some diversions and distance miscalculations along the way!”

The target was to raise £1000 and £2905 has been donated so far.  If you’ve not yet had chance to donate, you can do so via this link before the 10 December:

Crowdfunding to for the Leeds Care Leavers Christmas Dinner by Walking West Yorkshire on JustGiving


Another way that you can support the Christmas Dinner in Leeds, is by donating a pair of Christmassy socks. They can be any adult size, colourful, patterned, BUT MOST DEFINITELY CHRISTMAS themed … Buy a pair and drop them off at Leeds Central Library (collection point) from 1 – 19 December. These will be just one of the gifts that our young people will receive on Christmas day. “Christmas is a time when we want everyone to feel warm and cosy and we love getting socks!” (The Care Leaver’s Council). Together, ‘we can sock it to them!’


A national report commissioned jointly by Barnardos and IKEA entitled No Place Like Home. A Look at Young People’s Experiences of Leaving the Care System written by Rose Fortune and Nicola Smith, highlights some of the additional challenges young people leaving the care system have experienced. You can read the full report here.

Finally, why not plan a Christmas visit to Leeds … there’s glittering lights and Christmas trees, festive family days, spectacular shows and enchanting events. For more information visit: https://www.visitleeds.co.uk/winter-season/

If you’d like to find out more about the projects we work on for children and young people you work with or if you are a Child Friendly Leeds ambassador and would like to work in partnership with us on initiatives like this, please do get in touch. Our email address is: childfriendlyleeds@leeds.gov.uk

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