The Christmas Dinner Leeds 2015 with Lemn Sissay

Many care leavers spend Christmas Day by themselves away from family. Often they have no definite place to spend Christmas Day, where they know they will be welcomed.

Building on Christmas Dinners that have already taken place in Manchester and in Hackney, driven by the drive and passion of poet Lemn Sissay, who is himself a care leaver, a group of volunteers lead by Sal Tariq are working together to provide a fantastic, free Christmas Day Dinner for care leavers in Leeds.  

Many care leavers spend Christmas Day by themselves away from family.  Often they have no definite place to spend Christmas Day, where they know they will be welcomed.  We want to create a magical day to remember, including a scrumptious Christmas meal, for around 50 care leavers (between 18 and 25) at a secret location in Leeds and we want to do it THIS Christmas!!   "The Christmas Dinner" is a pop up organisation set up to provide a Christmas Day Dinner to remember.   If you’re interested in helping there are lots of things we still need help with:  

  1. Join the team - we need a volunteer to join the steering group to help lead/organise logistics of people, food and presents, if you would like to join the team get in touch. 
  2. Presents – we need lots of presents.  We will have 50 guests (and we may have some guests' children also); we are giving each guest a bespoke individual gift, the sort you or I would want as a main present.   If you would like to pledge to buy one of these bespoke gifts you can decide how you wish to do so.  You can donate money via our crowdfunding page, send us high street gift vouchers or we can give you relevant information re a guest (after 1st Dec) and you can go and purchase the gift yourself.  We will have received information regarding our guests by the 1st of Dec - gender, age, interests and what the referrer suggests as a bespoke gift. We are also giving each guest a goody bag so we need stocking filler presents x 50!  
  3. Volunteers - you can volunteer your time on either on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (volunteers for Christmas Day need to be over 25).  You don't have to be available to volunteer on both days.  We are looking for up to 20 volunteers to help out with a range of tasks: wrapping presents & decorating the venue (Christmas Eve); food prep, food serving, crèche helpers, games coordinator, cloakroom assistants, meeting and greeting.  If you'd like to volunteer, please contact for an application form. 
  4. Donate - if you would like to help financially, you can donate before 16 December.  People are donating between £10 and £5000 and we are already a third of the way there to providing Christmas Day Dinners in Leeds, Manchester and London.  Please visit:  
  5. Referrals - if you would like to refer a young person to be invited to the Christmas Dinner, please email and we will send you a referral form.   You can also use this email address to contact us for more information about how to refer.   
  6. Venue - we still need a venue which needs to be available on the 24th, 25th and 26th December and minimally must have: - a well equipped kitchen, a space large enough to accommodate 50/60 people sitting down for Christmas Dinner and break out rooms for a crèche area (for young care leavers who have children), games space, film space, presents room, etc.  If you have any ideas or know of a suitable venue – get in touch. 

You can keep up with everything we’re doing on the Leeds Facebook page too:


(For other Christmas-related volunteering opportunities in Leeds, please visit this news story on Doing Good Leeds).