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Lemn Sissay: The Christmas Dinner

Lemn Sissay: The Christmas Dinner
Written by The Christmas Dinner project  23/12/2015
Created by the poet Lemn Sissay "The Christmas Dinner" is organized by a set of artists, adult care leavers and social care professionals from each city where the Dinner takes place.   They work together from October to December  to provide a Christmas Day dinner to remember for care leavers between 16 and 30. Many young people leaving care are sat in flats, B&B’s, hostels, sofa surfing and indeed living on the streets on their own at Christmas. It can be a day to dread and then forget. 
This year Christmas Dinners are takig place in  Hackney, Manchester and here in Leeds too. They’ve raised £38,000 this year in 49 days via crowdfunder.  It’ll help fund three Christmas Dinners this year and four next year.  The average budget for Christmas dinner is £5,000.  The community provides venues,  gifts, decorations and the invaluable contribution of volunteer time.  This is how a city shines.   The Christmas Dinner will become a reality.
In his conference speech this year  Prime Minister David Cameron spoke of the care system.    “Children in care are today almost guaranteed to live in poverty.  84 per cent leave school without five good GCSEs.  70 per cent of prostitutes were once in care.   And tragically, care leavers are four times more likely to commit suicide than anyone else.
It's a real achievement that this project has inspired so many people and organisations to contribute in many different  ways.  Though Lemn maintains that this is an arts led project there are over 100 years experience of working with care leavers on each steering group. The primary aim of The Christmas Dinner is to allow communities to take care of the ones who leave care at their most vulnerable time.
written by Lemn Sissay
If there was ever one

Whom when you were sleeping

Would wipe your tears

When in dreams you were weeping;

Who would offer you time

When others demand;

Whose love lay more infinite

Than grains of sand.
If there was ever one

To whom you could cry;

Who would gather each tear

And blow it dry;

Who would offer help

On the mountains of time;

Who would stop to let each sunset

Soothe the jaded mind.
If there was ever one

To whom when you run

Will push back the clouds

So you are bathed in sun;

Who would open arms

If you would fall;

Who would show you everything

If you lost it all.
If there was ever one

Who when you achieve

Was there before the dream

And even then believed;

Who would clear the air

When it’s full of loss;

Who would count love

Before the cost.
If there was ever one

Who when you are cold

Will summon warm air

For your hands to hold;

Who would make peace

In pouring pain,

Make laughter fall

In falling rain.
If there was ever one

Who can offer you this and more;

Who in keyless rooms

Can open doors;

Who in open doors

Can see open fields

And in open fields

See harvests yield.
Then see only my face

In the reflection of these tides

Trough the clear water

Beyond the river side.

All I can send is love

In all that this is

A poem and a necklace

Of invisible kisses.
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