The Christmas Day Dinner is an annual event for local foster care leavers aged 18-25 to celebrate their resilience and create positive festive memories.
For the fifth year running, members of the community will get together to create a unique Christmas Day experience for foster care leavers in the Richmond area on 25th December. The aim is simple: to ensure no young adult care leaver feels alone on the big day.
The Richmond Christmas Day Dinner was set up by Sian Thomas, a nurse by background, after a chance meeting with a young homeless man. “On Christmas Eve 2016, I met a young man sitting on the ground outside the local Burger King. We had a chat, went for a burger together and had a nice couple of hours,” says Sian, who lives in Twickenham.
“What was so sad was I could have told you his history before he spoke: 22 years old, parents were alcoholics, he had been in care with placements broken down, from foster home to foster home, children’s home to children’s home. Now totally alone, he was spending Christmas Eve and Day alone. Society had totally failed him. Who knows where people like this young man would spend Christmas Day? It inspired me and a number of other people to do something about it.”
Poet and author Lemn Sissay OBE, a care leaver himself, set up the original Christmas Day Dinner initiative in 2013 and there are now more than 28 UK-wide. Says Sissay, “I remember saying when I left care, ‘I don’t want to just survive. I want to live.’ And the Christmas Dinner isn’t about surviving… it’s about living.”
Each year in Richmond borough, the event is hosted for 50 to 70 young care leavers with everything from transport to the venue, traditional Christmas Lunch, entertainment, thoughtful gifts and practical takeaway hampers.
Says Sian: “It is a fabulous day for all involved and a brilliant cause but the success is entirely reliant on volunteers and donations – we need your help!”
If you would like to know more or would like to volunteer, please get in touch:
Just Giving Link for donations: justgiving.com/crowdfunding/christmasdayrichmond2021
To support us on Get Lucky Local: getluckylocal.co.uk/support/christmas-day-richmond