manchesterWhat 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?
I remember how hard Christmases were for me when I left care and I was inspired by The Project in 2012
So how many Christmas Dinners have  you  done and how many do you intend to do?
2013 Manchester
2014 Manchester and London
2015 Manchester and London and Leeds
2016 Manchester, Liverpool,  London Oxford and Leeds.
When is it held?
Christmas Day!   But it begins before that. A steering group  meet in late September 1513206_270575139757384_347806979_nor early October up until Christmas.  Each dinner has a different group  made up of artists, theatre people, social work professionals, teachers doctors etc from the area. Each steering group has at least 100 years professional experience of working with young people.  There’s a cross pollination between creative and care practitioners. It is voluntary. 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. There is no logo.  But at each level (in each community)  the standards are as high if not higher.  See the How to guide.
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?” :
There are seven goals of Christmas Dinner  1. volunteers 2. venue  3. presents 4. transport 5. food, 6. Chef  7. guests (referrals) . The idea is to get everything for free to encourage  people of our community to take care of the care leaver.
And you are not trying to raise any money?
We have £38,000 in the bank from our previous crowdfunder (2015) campaign.    We try to get everything for free but for each Christmas Dinner we have a £5,000 contingency.photo(3) copy 6  For example we often have to pay for taxis on the day.   What isn’t used rolls over to the next year but it averages at £5,000.
We believe a group bus is belittling on Christmas Day.  It’s a special day.  For the same reason we are choosey about where the dinner is held. This has led to some beautiful venues gifted to us for that special day.
Ok back to the money? What happens to the money?
It left  Crowdfunder in 2015 and went to Pureinsight. They are a Registered respected Charity  (for care leavers)  based in Stockport headed by Sarah Sturmey.  It is held by them. And then it goes into The Christmas Dinner Account.  This is held by Simon Ruding director of Tipp another charity. The Christmas Dinner account is held with  The Cooperative bank.
Why don’t you set up The Christmas Dinner as a Charity itself?

B5n6ai3IMAEMoj6Not interested. 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 childhood in institutions.   Institutions are created with great creative energy and force for good. But they can lose this force quickly beneath the need to maintain themselves.   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.  Here is the How To Guide.   Please organize one. We have £5,000 to support you. Once it is done.  You’ll need to get the support of a charity for your Christmas Dinner.  We only give the money over to a registered charity and only  with receipts.

How can I donate?

For Donations The Christmas Dinner bank details are
Account Name:     The Christmas Dinner Account
Account bank            The Cooperative Bank
Sort Code               089299
Account number       65741757

For questions about this account write to Simon Ruding at mcr@thechristmasdinner.org.uk

I want to do one. Now.
Yeah I’ve heard that too many times and it’s upsetting. It’s upsetting when people IMG_3418approach me with  full-on dedication to do it and then realise they can’t.  Most enquiries end up that way. And each time I am hurt.  The action is everything.  And the detail in the How To Guide is everything too.  The key is the team you surround yourself with. This is my key role. I have been involved in teh startup process of each Christmas Dinner. So contact me.
Okay so who are you?
Here’s my TED talk and here’s my desert Island discs.  People in care are incredible because they deal with the darkest situation with incredible light and I want to pay homage to them on the day that many feel at their darkest.  There is a prejudice in our society against the young person in care  and I want to help us  reverse that.
So how do I get involved?
If you are in Leeds Manchester Hackney Oxford or Liverpool and if you want to get involved and feel you’d like to  contribute your skills or time to  any of the seven goals of Christmas then  write to either
Leeds: tcdleeds@gmail.com
Manchester: mcr@thechristmasdinner.org.uk
Liverpool lcdinner16@gmail.com
Oxford:  tcdoxfordshire@gmail.com

We need you. We really really do. This Project has a purity and honesty that really shows what the Christmas spirit is all about.  Go well.


  1. Hello, I am interested in putting together the Hackney Christmas Dinner, I think I already have a few interested people, so looking forward, Michelle.

  2. hi Lemn, Sorry to bother you again, but I have a creative idea for young women who have left the Care Home System that I’d love to chat with you about if you have time, I know you are busy!! Thankyou, from Elizabeth

    1. Put it in to action. I am too involved with the Christmas dinners to take on any other projects at this time. PUT IT INTO ACTION.

  3. I love this! I totally get the taxis not buses thing! I wasn’t in care but a therapist told me that living with my parents sounded pretty much like being in care. I’ve since had enough moments of being made to feel special to help line the black hole, which can then fill up with something that comes from inside. I’d like to help in Oxford next year. Paul

  4. Immensely enjoyed sharing in the Liverpool Christmas Dinner. Loved meeting some very warm and funny young people..what better way to spend Christmas?
    Thank you for initiating. See you next year.

  5. This might sound a bit OTT, given I don’t know you… but from one care leaver to another, I’m super proud of what you’re doing here. ❤️

    1. Thanks, hmmmm. OTT. That’s a pretty ungenerous thing to say without qualifications. But maybe you have clear reasons why it is OTT. With an open mind I’d be interested in hearing what those reasons are.

        1. No it’s my fault. I took what you said all wrong. I thought you meant that the Christmas Dinner was OTT. My apologies.

  6. Hello Lemn and Co

    I’d like to volunteer at next year’s (2017) Christmas dinner if possible. Is there likely to be one in Sheffield? Thank you.

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