Foster families across Leeds have been enjoying a variety of Christmas themed treats to help spread a bit of festive magic for children in care and the dedicated people who look after them.
With help from businesses and organisations across the city Leeds City Council has organised Christmas parties, a cinema treat and discounted theatre tickets, as a special thank you to families who foster through the council.
This weekend hundreds of foster families enjoyed an exclusive showing of The Good Dinosaur at Vue cinema on Kirkstall Road. The cinema was opened up especially for 245 foster children and their carers. As well as enjoying the blockbuster movie, each child went home with a selection box provided by Sainsburys in Moortown. Some foster carers commented:
“We had a great time; the staff were really friendly and helpful and made sure that no one was forgotten with the wonderful popcorn and selection box treats”
“How kind of the people at The Vue to do this for our kids.”
During the run up to Christmas, 30 children and their foster families enjoyed a special Christmas breakfast at the White Rose Shopping Centre whilst another 30 were treated to a special party provided by the Merrion Centre which was hosted at the first direct arena.
The children who attended the White Rose Christmas breakfast were given exclusive access to the centre before it opened and were treated to breakfast from BHS, a visit to Santa and a gift, as well as a goody bag which was kindly donated by M&S at the White Rose.
One foster carer whose children attended the White Rose breakfast commented:
“The party was great and we realised how hard people had worked to make it happen…..It was great to have the centre "exclusively" and that we were together as a group who…. understand our children and the behaviours they display. They "get it"… Most importantly our three girls had a great morning”.
The party at the first direct arena, which included party games and music, a visit from Santa and his elves and a gift for every child, as well as party food and treats, was organised by the Merrion Centre who also offered free parking for parents. One foster carer described the event as a magical experience for her foster child.
In addition to the parties, the council’s fostering team was also able to offer heavily discounted tickets for foster families to see a performance of the family musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at West Yorkshire Playhouse. Many of the carers were especially pleased about being able to offer such a wonderful experience to the children they look after. Some examples of comments received are:
“We were so overjoyed with the performance. It is a fantastic show that I would recommend to everyone. Thank you so much for the opportunity to take all six of us.”
“Thank you very much for the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang tickets; we had a fantastic time at the Playhouse on Saturday afternoon. The show was fabulous, we loved all the singing, dancing, acting and singing along! The staff at the Playhouse were really helpful & friendly. It is a really excellent and professional show.”
Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive member for children and families said:
“'By saying thank you through organising events like this, we hope to give something back to our foster carers and the children they look after. These exceptional people provide an invaluable service, giving stable and supportive homes to children in care. We have an ongoing commitment to helping them achieve the best outcomes for the children they look after, as well as recognising that they are an integral part of our team.
“Christmas can often be a difficult time for children who are in care so we are extremely grateful to all of these organisations for helping to provide these lovely treats, and supporting our aim to be the best city for children to grow up in.”