Canterbury Uncovered

Arts organisations in Canterbury develop a Christmas Dinner for Care Leavers

With the help of local volunteers and the Canterbury poet laureate, Wise Words Festival and the Marlowe Theatre are working towards giving care leavers in Canterbury a Christmas to remember.

Christmas, says Canterbury Laureate Lemn Sissay, divides the world into two sorts of people. One group gathers around the domestic hearth: all jocularity and teasing, memories and traditions. The other group is, as in the Victorian cliché, outside the window and looking in. They have never felt the warmth of the homely festive glow.

Now a world-famous poet, Lemn left care three decades ago, but he says you don’t leave it behind – part of you is always that rootless kid, that person with no one to chivvy or complain about, no one to boast to or moan about. And while he is not sure whether he would count much of his life’s work as achievements, there is one thing he is incredibly proud of: his Christmas present to hundreds of young people who, like him, have never had a family to be with at this time of the year. He founded the Christmas Dinner in 2013, and this year it promises a fabulous day to care leavers aged 18 to 25 in eleven cities across the UK.

Wise Words Festival and the Marlowe Theatre have included the Christmas Dinner as an integral part of Lemn’s Laureateship within Canterbury. It is being run by all those who want to volunteer and together they are working with local businesses and organisations to gather food and services. Not just any food or services, though: only the best will do. Guests will be picked up by taxi and driven to a stunning venue, dinner will be cooked by a chef, and the stockings will be stuffed with top-drawer gifts.


Can you help make someone’s Christmas special?

The Canterbury Christmas Dinner has an Amazon wish list, where people can buy a gift for a care leaver. (Prices as low as £2.00). If you aren’t an Amazon user you can purchase gifts elsewhere and drop them at The Marlowe Theatre STAGE DOOR. Or send gifts and vouchers by post to:

Canterbury’s Christmas Dinner, Stage Door, Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury, CT1 2AS

For Business and Organisations who could donate goods, services or skills in-kind, or you’re able to sponsor a full sack of goodies for a young person. Email

If you have an hour, a business, 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 and noticed by the Canterbury community.

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