A group of young care leavers will come together to celebrate Christmas thanks to a festive fundraising campaign.
The event will see fifty young people who recently left care attend the fourth annual Care Leavers Christmas Dinner next month.
The seasonal celebration was founded by poet and care leaver Lemn Sissay MBE, and inspired by the Tope Project. Lemn has written plays for stage and BBC radio and was the first poet to write for the London Olympics. He was awarded an MBE from the Queen for his Services to Literature.
To support this year’s event, Leeds City Council Fostering Department and Leeds Foster Carer Association presented £1148.38 of fundraised money to Leeds social worker Mark Nye who said:
“I’m the volunteer coordinator for the Care Leavers Christmas Dinner in Leeds and this is the third year I have been involved. I am thrilled that wider communities have donated and I thank all who support The Care Leavers Christmas Dinner. I am passionate about making the Christmas Dinner a safe space for people to feel at ease with others who understand.
“The Christmas Dinner Leeds team are motivated by the need to bring about change in how we as a community can assist young Care Leavers. In the absence of family we want to create a special day to remember for young people who may otherwise be alone."
Events like the dinner act as a way of changing perceptions in the community and fundraising seeks to spread the word of how young Care Leavers aged 18-25 still need assistance.
Councillor Lisa Mulherin (Executive Board Member for Children and Families) said:
“Christmas is mostly thought of as a wonderful time where family and friends come together to celebrate and join in the festivities, however it can be a difficult and lonely time of year for Care Leavers.
“Sponsored events such as the Care Leavers Christmas Dinner provide valuable opportunities for them to spend time with other young people who have similar experiences, get support from their peers and celebrate Christmas.
“In Leeds, we want to ensure that when a young person leaves care, the support doesn’t stop there but is given for as long as it is needed – this is part of our commitment to being a compassionate and inclusive city. The Care Leavers Christmas Dinner is just one example of the fantastic partnership work going on in Leeds to support the best outcomes for our city’s young people.
“Success stories like Lemn Sissay highlight that being a child in care is not synonymous with poor life chances, and I am incredibly proud that the support given by our Fostering Service and Carers really does change lives.”
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