Show care leavers you care this Christmas

“They need to have fun, they need to have a great, joyous experience, and wonderful presents. We want to say: ‘Put your feet up, relax, and let us treat you. Let’s make a memory, so that next year you have something really positive to look back on.”  
Lemn Sissay MBE, founder of the Christmas Dinner Project

George & Lucy are members of the Oxford Christmas Dinner Steering Group: 

We are catching up in a local café in East-Oxford about the first Christmas dinner for care leavers in Oxfordshire.

Currently being organised by a busy group of incredible volunteers with over 100 years of experience working with young people, many  of them will be joining in the with the celebrations on Christmas day.

Everybody’s Christmas is different. How you spend your Christmas is personal, it depends on your nationality, your religious beliefs, your family background, and your own feelings about the day. We believe that the beauty of Christmas is in the coming together of people in a celebration of the creativity, positivity and generosity in our societies.

The poet Lemn Sissay (MBE) was inspired to set up The Christmas Dinner by The Tope Project which put on a Christmas dinner for care leavers in memory of a young adult called Tope who left care and took his life over Christmas. Lemn’s vision is to create a day where people feel safe, are full of laughter and can take away many happy memories of their Christmas. The Christmas Dinner already takes place in Manchester, Leeds, London (see YouTube for a brilliant video) and this year for the first time in Liverpool and Oxford.

Adulthood presents many challenges to all of us, but it can be particularly hard for a care-leaver. Imagine if at 18 years old, after a lifetime in care, you are thrust into the world of adulthood, supporting yourself without the familial support network that most of us cannot possibly imagine living without. Lemn Sissay, -a care-leaver himself- says,Christmas day in particular is where that aloneness is truly felt…many young care leavers are alone on Christmas day, in hostels, in bed and breakfasts or in inadequate accommodation.

We believe that over Christmas, everybody should have the opportunity to -Sing carols together -Listen to the Christmas number 1 -Laugh at bad Christmas cracker jokes -Stuff their faces with stuffing (and all the rest) -Open up lots of presents- some that you’ve been waiting for and some that you haven’t (novelty socks) -Collapse on the sofa yet still reach for the box of chocolates you’ve just been given and above all ENJOY it!

You can help to enable care leavers to have this opportunity in Oxford this Christmas by donating presents or volunteering.

To donate presents, follow this link to Oxfordshire Christmas Dinner Giftlist

For further information, please email us at


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