The Christmas Dinner brings local communities together to offer support and company for care leavers on Christmas Day. 2017 is the first year that it will take place in Sheffield.

We chatted to event organiser Ruby Robinson to find out more about the project and how everyone can get involved.

Tell us about The Christmas Dinner 2017.

The Christmas Dinner is a national project founded by [author and broadcaster] Lemn Sissay MBE. Care leavers are people who have spent time in care while they were growing up, so they may not have family. The vision of The Christmas Dinner is that no care leaver should be alone at Christmas.

There will be ten Christmas Dinners this year – the most yet – and we’ll be hosting up to 50 young people in Sheffield. We have a professional chef who’s working for us for free to cook up a delicious feast. We’ll be showing festive films, putting on fun activities and crafts, playing games, sharing conversation and Christmas spirit.

Is there the opportunity for local people and organisations to donate presents?

Yes please! Each Christmas Dinner is the product of the local community rallying together. We have food donations from local supermarkets, volunteer helpers and hosts, a venue kindly offered to us free of charge, and other support from local organisations. It’s a beautiful collective effort.

Individuals and organisations are invited to share in the project by purchasing gifts for our guests. This can be done via our Amazon wish list at http://tiny.cc/agsuoy. If people would rather buy presents from other places or donate items or gift vouchers on behalf of an organisation, please email tcdsheffield@gmail.com to arrange this.

Are we right in thinking you’re running a Crowdfunder campaign for TCD17?

Yes. There is a central fund that exists to support all The Christmas Dinners. Each year, unused funds roll onto the next year. The fund gives the volunteers on the ground the confidence and reassurance to forge ahead with plans, knowing that there is financial back-up should it be needed, although most of the elements of the dinners are donated in-kind. You can find out how to support the Crowdfunder at crowdfunder.co.uk/the-christmas-dinner-2017.

Can people volunteer to host and help out at the events on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day?

Absolutely. We’re looking for a diverse range of hosts and helpers to support the project by being there on the day. If you’re not available on Christmas Day, there are other ways of getting involved, such as helping to prepare food on Christmas Eve and wrapping presents at our present-wrapping parties throughout December. If you’re interested in getting involved, please email hosts.tcdsheffield@gmail.com.

And finally, is there anything else people can do to raise awareness of the project?

We believe that through projects like this we can change the narrative about children and young people in the care system and help these young people to feel valued, loved and supported, so please share information about the project.

You can email friends, colleagues and family, inviting them to buy a gift for a care leaver. If you would like a template email with links and further information, just email us at tcdsheffield@gmail.com. You can also follow us on Twitter (@tcdsheffield), join our Facebook group (The Sheffield Christmas Dinner) and share the Crowdfunder campaign information.

crowdfunder.co.uk/the-christmas-dinner-2017

Flick Jackson