Bringing Christmas to young care leavers in Peterborough and Cambridgeshire

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The Christmas Dinners are organised by independent dynamic communities throughout the UK. A group of local volunteers in Peterborough and Cambridgeshire are back to work planning for Christmas 2023

The festive period is a time for family - however, it can also be a lonely time for some people.

Christmas is fast approaching and while many will be looking forward to spending the festive period with their families, the festive season can be a particularly hard time for many care leavers, young people between 18 and 25 leaving the care system (foster care/ residential homes) and living independently for the first time, who have nowhere to go.

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“The Christmas Dinner” project was set up with the intention that no care leaver should be alone on Christmas Day. Founded by poet, Lemn Sissay MBE, each Dinner is its own individual project run by local volunteers who come together to make the Christmas Day magic happen.

Christmas 2022Christmas 2022
Christmas 2022

The Christmas Dinner project is now in its eleventh year across the country and came to Peterborough for the first time in 2021 with the aim that no young care leaver in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire and the surrounding areas would need to spend Christmas Day alone. The team of volunteers have already begun meeting and making preparations to make Christmas 2023 their biggest and best event yet.

Each Christmas Dinner is an independent project supported by The Gold from the Stone Foundation. Over 10 years there have been 130 Christmas dinners in over 35 locations across the UK, each one organised by local volunteers within their own communities. In the words of Lemn Sissay “Hundreds of thousands of acts of kindness in steering groups up and down the country are what make it happen.”

The event sees the organisers working to guidance provided by the Gold From Stone Foundation focusing on the ‘8 Elements’ of the Christmas Dinner, which are Guests, Hosts and Helpers, Finance and Funding, Presents, Communications, Venue and Design, Chef & Maître D’ and Transport.

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Organisers work with the local authorities to identify care leavers who may be on their own over the Christmas Period and invite them to attend and come together for an unforgettable day. Guests will enjoy not only a Christmas meal and a day of fun but they also receive at least one ‘wow’ present and a sack full of stocking fillers and Christmas essentials, like selection boxes, socks and winter warmers.

Venue ready to receive guests 2022Venue ready to receive guests 2022
Venue ready to receive guests 2022

A spokesperson for The Christmas Dinner Peterborough said:

“Our sole aim is to provide a warm, joyful and welcoming experience to young people who may otherwise spend Christmas Day alone. As a group of local volunteers we are totally reliant on the generosity of local people, businesses and services.”

“We are incredibly lucky to be partnering with the George Alcock centre who are generously providing our venue, and Diamond Hampers CIC, a community support organisation who are our food supplier for the third year running. We also have our wonderful chef and a growing team of volunteers to ensure planning is well underway.”

“We are aiming to host up to 30 care leavers this year which will be our biggest event yet and to do that we need the support and kindness of the community. We are open to applications for more volunteers. We are looking for a wide range of people with various skills, there is a role for everyone!”

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Volunteers packing hampers donated by Waitrose in 2022Volunteers packing hampers donated by Waitrose in 2022
Volunteers packing hampers donated by Waitrose in 2022

“Last year, our second year of hosting a dinner in Peterborough, we had several return guests which was amazing and testament, we think, to the success of the first year. We are learning lessons each year and trying to build on our successes and create an even better event for 2023.”

If you would like more information or to find ways to support the event you can contact the team at: