Fifty young people who have just left the care system have been invited to enjoy a magical Christmas dinner at a “stunning location” in the heart of Richmond Borough.

The event aims to create a special day for people who may have had very negative experiences at Christmas, and to create new memories by bringing people together as one “family”.

Richmond will be only the second London borough to make this happen, along with Hackney.

People of all ages and backgrounds are coming together to make this day, for care leavers aged 18 to 25, as special as possible.

Sian Thomas, the nurse spearheading the event, said: “We need help on Christmas Eve, decorating the venue, wrapping presents, making it look wonderful.

“We will also need help with people transporting items to and from the event.

“One of the key things we need is presents for these young adults.

“Many have never had presents at Christmas before so we are appealing to local business to provide these presents, especially ones that have that ‘wow’ effect.

“We need a maitre d’, kitchen helpers, washer uppers and people who help clear away – not glamorous but absolutely vital or the event won’t work.

“Helpers on Christmas Day would be fantastic but we also need volunteers on Christmas Eve and for the big clear up on Boxing Day. The event will be warm, comfortable, hospitable and traditional.”

If you like to volunteer, email:

The project is inspired by Lemn Sissay, the official poet from the 2012 Olympic Games.

Lemn Sissay, a care leaver himself, set up the Christmas Day Dinner initiative in 2013 and it has already been a great success in Hackney and Liverpool.

He said: “The thing is.

“I remember saying when I left care, ‘I don’t want to just survive. I want to live.’ And the Christmas Dinner isn’t about surviving; it’s about living.”

MP for Twickenham Vince Cable said: “I am delighted to be able to spend Christmas Day with 50 of the borough’s care leavers.

“These young people have a lot to contribute to society but do not have the family support networks of most of us – which is why they have been in care.”