What is The Christmas Dinner?
It’s a Christmas Dinner for care leavers.
Why not call it The Care leavers Christmas Dinner then?
Would you want to come if it was called that!?
Hey I’m asking the questions. What is a care leaver?
A care leaver is a person over the age of 18 who has been looked after away from home by a local authority.
Why did you start “The Christmas Dinner?
Because I remember how hard Christmases were for me when I left care.
So how many Christmas Dinners have you done and how many do you intend to do?
2014 Manchester and London
2015 Manchester and London and Leeds
2016 Manchester London Leeds and Oxford and more
When is it held?
On Christmas Day! But it begins before that. A steering committee meet in late Septemberearly October up until Christmas. The group is made up of artists, theatre people, social work professionals, teachers doctors etc. Each steering group has at least 100 years professional experience of working with young people. The steering group for each area are from the area. There’s a cross pollination between creative and care practitioners. It is voluntary on the whole. There are no admin costs. No worker costs.
Are you mad?
One of the aims of the Christmas dinner is that it DOESN’T turn into an organization.
If you are on the steering group do you have to be at the Christmas dinner?
Not at all.
So what do they do – exactly – “steering group?” :
They go out into the community and find volunteers, venue, presents, food, Chef and guests (referals) . The idea is to get everything for free. We encourage people of our community to take care of the care leaver.
Hold on a minute why are you are trying to raise £30,000 if everything’s free.
Well not everything is free: we can’t help that. So we have a £5,000 contingency for each dinner. We’ve found £5,000 maintains The Christmas Dinner expense. Expense splits into two areas: Taxis (fifty percent) and contingency. What isn’t used rolls over to the next year for the same area.
We believe a group bus is belittling on Christmas Day. For the same reason we are choosey about where the dinner is held. A This has led to some beautiful venues gifted by the community.
Ok back to the money? What happens to the money?
It leaves Crowdfunder once the target is reached and goes to Pureinsight. They are a care leaver charity based in Stockport headed by Sarah Sturmey. And then it goes into The Christmas Dinner Account. This is run by Simon Ruding director of Tipp another charity. The Christmas Dinner account held by The Cooperative bank is where the money goes.
Why don’t you set up The Christmas Dinner as a Charity itself?
Not interested. It comes counter to needing each area to take responsibility for the care leaver. We have a rigorous attention to detail and the highest standards: Accredited kitchens, volunteer forms, referral structures, public liability insurance etc : I don’t need to build a hierarchical structure that simply replicates the one I left.
I spent my life in institutions. The institution seemd to look after itself better than it looked after the children in its care. Institutions are created with great creative energy and force for good. But they can lose this force quickly beneath the need to maintain authority. I am trying to maintain fluidity to make the young adult feel truly catered for.
We support the social services, the community and the care leavers amongst us by offering this. I encourage anyone in the UK to do it. I wrote a
I want to do one. Now.
Yeah I’ve heard that a million times from people who simply flake away. There is no room for flakey Read the `HOW TO GUIDE
Sorry to bang on but the money? We need to raise that £30,000 so we don’t have to spend so much time and energy raising money each year for each area. It means this year we can support Manchester and Leeds and Hackney and next year we can support more Christmas Dinners.
Okay so who are you?
Here’s my TED talk and here’s my desert Island discs.
Superman was a foster child. Harry Potter was a foster child. Cinderella was kinship fostered. Lisbeth Salander (The Girl With The dragon Tattoo) was fostered adopted and institutionalised. People in care are incredible becasue they deal with the darkest situation with their incredible light and I want to pay homage to them: to their greatness at their time of need. There is a prejudice in our society against the young person in care (“if you’re naughty I’ll put you in the home”) and it follows through that they feel ashamed of being in care as adults. This shame is not ours.
So how do I get involved?
Please contribute to Crowdfunder or look at the HOW TO GUIDE.