Grant 3 Special Wishes for the Care Leavers of Canterbury this Christmas…

Grant 3 Wishes for the Care Leavers of Canterbury this Christmas – without even leaving our sofa!

Christmas can be a magical time when families come together, but for the hundreds of young adults in Kent who are forced to live independently as early as aged 18, it can be a time when they feel most alone.

This Christmas in Canterbury we have a chance to come together as a community to take responsibility for those amongst us who need our help, love and support.

Today the 2 week countdown for our City’s first ever care leavers Christmas Dinner begins!

Led by Canterbury’s Poet Laureate, Lemn Sissay MBE, we are creating a scrumptious Christmas Day Dinner in the heart of Canterbury for 25 young people who, like Lemn,  grew up within the care system and are now alone. Guests will be picked up by taxi, and driven to a stunning venue in town. A Christmas dinner will be cooked by a fabulous chef, and their Christmas stockings will be stuffed high with top-drawer gifts.

“Many care leavers are sat in flats, B&Bs and hostels, away from family, or sofa-surfing, and some are living on the streets on their own at Christmas. Christmas Day is a reminder of everything they never had a time to dread and then forget… I know because I’ve shared their experiences. But with your help we can create a magical day to remember” Lemn Sissay

Everything needed to put on a positive, joyful Christmas Day experience is being donated by the local community – including the venue, the food, the transport and of course the presents!

We have just 2 weeks left to make it the perfect day  – and we need your help.

3 simple ways you can help #TCD171) Spread the word

Share and help us spread the word!

This one’s a quick win and you won’t even have to leave your sofa! Share share share this post! Letting your friends, family and colleagues know about the Christmas Dinner is simple way to stand together with care leavers in our community.  

Buy an extra Christmas Present

If you’re in the middle of your Christmas shopping and feel you can spare a little something to buy an extra gift for one of our care leavers, then please do! Just pop it into the stage door at The Marlowe Theatre and together we can make sure each young person has a stocking stuffed with delights and surprises. 

Every #TCD17 guest is being asked about their hobbies and about things that bring them joy. From these conversations we are secretly finding out what we should get for their surprise main gift. By picking something from our Amazon List  you will make on of the young people’s wishes come true.  

If you are not an Amazon user, Gift cards are a great idea. We will then use these to purchase a young person’s dream gift or pop a voucher in their stocking. The shops where we know we will need to purchase presents from are below. You can buy these in store or online and drop in or send them to The Christmas Dinner, Marlowe Theatre Stage Door, The Friars, Canterbury CT1 2AS

Mastercard – their gift cards are great as they are accepted in ANY high street shop that accepts Mastercard.





Arcadia Group (Accepted at Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins, Burton, Evans and Wallis)

Odeon Cinemas


Volunteer a little of your time

If you want to get more involved, we are looking for volunteers. Perhaps you have an hour to spare, a great network, amazing wrapping or peeling skills and/or a desire to help in some way. However large or small, your support will go a long way towards ending loneliness and isolation and show young care leavers that they are valued as part of the Canterbury community.

Christmas can be a difficult time – but together we can make  #TCD2017 an amazing event that will make Christmas Special for #Canterbury care leavers.

Join The Community!


Facebook –

Twitter – @CantbXmasDinner

Gmail –



How did the Christmas Dinner come about?

Led by the poet Lemn Sissay, the Christmas Dinners have been taking place in cities across the UK since 2014. There are now 12 in total. This is the first time it will take place in Canterbury.

Lemn was born in 1967 to a young Ethiopian woman who discovered she was pregnant soon after arriving in England. She asked for him to be fostered while she finished her studies. Instead, the arrangement continued until Sissay was 12, at which point his foster family gave him up, and he was sent to a children’s home. From there, he was moved from one home to another.

Since leaving care, Lemn has gone on to become Chancellor of The University of Manchester,  award-winning writer and broadcaster and most recently, due to a partnership between Wise Words and the Marlowe, he has become Canterbury’s very own Poet Laureate. 

In a recent Guardian interview Lemn said:

“Everything in life is connected to family. People say: ‘If you’ve got no family, you can always have friends.’ But what they don’t understand is that your friendship-making skills are themselves connected to being part of a family.”

He says he feels fortunate that He has been able to overcome that loneliness and isolation which is always magnified for care leavers on Christmas Day. “My simple wish now is to inspire a positive way forward for the community so together we can support young people experiencing those truly tough first few years.”

On a personal level Lemn has raised more than £10,000 towards the Christmas Dinners across the UK this year. He has done this through performing his work and an appearance soon to be aired on Celebrity Mastermind. Lemn inspiring scores of volunteers to support care leavers this Christmas. We hope he will inspire you too.

Why is support for care leavers so important?

For many care leavers in the UK, Christmas can be a difficult time, a day spent alone in a bedsit or hostel, feeling isolated and with nowhere else to go.

Care leavers are young people aged 18-25 who have left foster or residential care. Forced to live independently much earlier than most young people, often after a childhood of loss, trauma and instability, their resources can be limited and they are often very vulnerable young adults.

Care leavers often have a huge task ahead in order to see themselves, and be seen as equal to their non-care experience peers.

They may be expected to manage without the practical or emotional support that many people take for granted as part of growing up.

Any support you can give will make a big difference!