Help make a Christmas to remember for care leavers in Leeds

Young people who have spent a lifetime in the care system and have no family to turn to will be given a Christmas Day to remember thanks to Leeds volunteers.

Community spirit: Volunteers at last years event.

The Christmas Dinner Leeds is appealing for help to fill a ‘wish list’ of goodies to make the day extra special.

The presents, which range from sweets to watches, will be given to 50 care leavers aged between 18 and 24, who might find themselves in a hostel, a bedsit, or even couch surfing with no fixed abode this Christmas.

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The Leeds lunch was the third event nationally founded by the Lemn Sissay Foundation, and this is the third year it has taken place, organised entirely by local volunteers.

Organiser Miz DeShannon said: “We were the third city, after Hackney and Manchester, and there is a core group of volunteers, helped by a huge amount of people, that make this happen.

“This Sunday we will have 30 people giving up their day to wrap presents, which have been donated by hundreds of people, and across Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, there will be 50 to 60 people involved, doing everything from cooking to arranging games and entertainment.”

The venue is a secret location in Leeds to add an element of surprise for those attending.

“They have no idea what is in store for the day,” said Ms DeShannon. “But it will be six hours of dinner, chocolates, and absolute indulgence, and we have some great things set up like photo booths, music and games.

“The idea of the Christmas Dinner is to give them a bit of stability, just for one day. These are young people that would otherwise have no where to go.

“This brings them together with friends, people they may once have lived with or gone to school with, and the chance to let their hair down and have fun.”

The team is still in need of some donations, details of which can be found at @TCDLeeds on Twitter and TheChristmasDinnerLeeds on Facebook.