Richmond Christmas Day Dinner has launched a fundraiser to give young care leavers an unforgettable Christmas this year.
The volunteer-run charity is now in its fifth year and aims to create a festive experience for 50 to 70 care leavers, aged 18-25, who now live independently.
Volunteer Emily Button, 43, explained the reason behind the event was to celebrate young people and ensure they are not alone on Christmas Day.
Button said: “The day celebrates the resilience of young people having gone through the care system and of coming out the other side.
“It creates positive memories, and for a lot of young people they don’t have any positive memories of Christmas.
“Often, when they come out of care, they don’t have a network and if you don’t have any family, then you could quite easily be alone on Christmas Day, which obviously, is really sad.”
The Richmond Christmas Day Dinner has raised £120 of their £12,000 goal after launching their justgiving campaign nine days ago.
Money raised by the fundraiser will pay for decorations, catering, presents, entertainment, and help to get the young care leavers to the yet-to-be disclosed venue.
The charity has also had hairdressers and manicurists at the event in past years to give guests the ultimate party experience.
Due to Covid-19, donations to the justgiving page are particularly important this year.
Previously, the charity received donations through supermarket green tokens, but the pandemic has made this harder.
Richmond Christmas Day Dinner has also praised local businesses for contributing to the event, with Sandy’s in Twickenham providing all the turkey and sausages for last year’s Covid safe dinner.
In 2019, the project was delivered in line with Covid regulations, with all food and presents delivered to people’s homes and entertainment provided online.
Hampers were also put together that contained essentials for helping young care leavers settle into their new homes.
Many of the charity’s volunteers are in fact care leavers themselves who have attended the dinner as guests in the past and now want to help young care leavers have a positive Christmas experience.
Button said: “We realised last year that we’ve got a really fantastic group of volunteers who are very innovative, and creative.
“Whatever happens, this will be a big celebration of everybody in the same space and for people whatever they’re doing to actually get to be together again.”
Featured image credit: The Richmond Christmas Day Dinner