Why I am involved with The Christmas Day Dinner – Sarah Austin

“I can still remember the childhood memories of anticipation building into excitement, wishing and hoping coming true along with the inevitable surprises, and a feeling of being loved unconditionally at Christmas without ever having to question that each year would be the same. (No matter how many chocolates I over indulged in from my selection box which often spiraled me into making the wrong sugar sponsored decisions, or the inevitable display of sibling jealousy as the presents were unwrapped!)

As an adult I now know the energy and hard work that goes into Christmas Day, all woven together with the most important elements of love and thoughtfulness. I wanted to get involved with the Christmas Care Leavers lunch to help be a part of creating those feelings and memories for others – which I was lucky enough to have experienced as a child.

We are never too old to feel the excitement of an unopened gift, to indulge in the other-worldly-ness of a decorated space, or to feel the virtual love around you that simply because you are you, someone has shown you that they care enough to celebrate you.”

Click here if you have been inspired by Sarah’s words to get involved with our project… We need your help

Why I am involved with The Christmas Day Dinner – Zoe Sargent

“As someone who during my professional career has been touched both directly and indirectly by caring for young people in care & having left the care system; I am inspired and motivated by this brilliant project.

As a parent myself, knowing how much I care for my children, I have always struggled that as a society, our care leavers are often left to survive after 18 years old, alone. Christmas, a time of togetherness – should be about celebrating and enjoyment- exactly what Lemn Sissay’s Christmas Day Dinner is all about!

When asked to join the steering group I didn’t hesitate! I know we can make amazing memories and provide something that all our wonderful volunteers will be so proud of. The Christmas Day Dinner project brings people together and makes everyone know they are valued – both guests and helpers.

Many years ago, a young care leaver in a women’s refuge made a lasting impression on me. In a letter I received from the 21 year old girl, she wrote “you will never realise how special it was to have someone listen to me and be there for me and my daughter; I will never forget you.” I wish I knew where she was now as I would like to tell her that I didn’t forget her either.”

Inspired by Zoe’s words? Join the group by clicking here

Why I initiated Richmond’s Christmas Day Dinner project – Sian Thomas

“I am a nurse who has seen over the years many people who have left care and spend Christmas alone, not because they want to but they have little choice. This has sat so, so unhappily with me and I always knew that the community would want to help if they just knew this was someone’s experience…

I came across Lemn Sissay around a year ago via his poetry, then I saw him on stage in the Report where his health report from the time he was in care was read out live on stage. I felt absolutely compelled to do something; I picked up his Brand New Guide to The Christmas Day Project about 10 times and kept putting it down as it felt just such a huge thing to organise; I kept wanting to be invited onto the project rather than the person initiating.

Join Sian and sign up to help us by clicking here

Anyway, on the 20 September I decided I would do it. I have met so many new and committed people who want to create a day that is warm, fun, caring and comfortable. There is no pressure on guests to be anything other than what they are on the day; happy, sad, melancholy as we understand that Christmas can evoke emotional feelings in everyone.

A care leaver has contacted me saying: “Christmas was a terrible time for me when I was young, so just having people around will be a bonus”…. this is not a day of pity but a day to come together as one and enjoy our Christmas Day.” 


Why I’m involved in Christmas Day Richmond – Sonia Shuter

“Having spent many years working as a Health Visitor, I have seen how being in care affects children through to them becoming young people and parents themselves. Many have a sense of low self esteem and have never felt loved.

It was important to me to be able to show them that love exists and that I can contribute to making one day very special for this important group of young people.”

Join Sonia and get involved by clicking here