A compassionate Christmas for Leeds children in care

Leeds, Leeds Star

Child Friendly Leeds ambassadors pulled out all the stops this Christmas to give children who live in foster families across Leeds access to an exciting range of special festive treats and offers.

With support from Leeds City Council, businesses and organisations across the city have organised Christmas parties, a cinema treat and discounted theatre tickets, as a special thank you to families who foster through the council.

The Land Securities team at White Rose Shopping Centre hosted a fantastic Christmas party, supported by some of their tenants including the Hand Made Burger Company and staff from Marks and Spencer. The excited young party goers enjoyed a trip to see Santa in the centre’s grotto and joined in with party games. All presents were paid for by White Rose Shopping Centre.

One foster carer said: “We had a brilliant time. Our child loved every minute of it and all of the staff worked so hard to make it memorable.”

The Land Securities team at Trinity Leeds Shopping Centre were also keen to help and they organised an amazing party in the centre’s management suite. The team volunteered by wrapping presents, decorating the management suite and even building a grotto for the children to visit. The families enjoyed delicious refreshments and every foster carer took home a Lindt chocolate bear. Christmas toys were generously donated by one of the centre’s tenants, the Entertainer.

At an extremely busy time of year for both shopping centres, the Land Securities management teams also gave up their free time to attend the parties and joined in the fun with the young people, helping to create unique and special memories for the children.

“The party at Trinity Leeds was the first event I’ve been to, and I thought it was exceptional. J had a fantastic time and we were both made so welcome. The staff were very attentive. J enjoyed storytelling and pass the parcel, most of all he enjoyed seeing Santa. Thank You, I left Trinity with a very happy little boy.”

Foster families were also invited to attend a special screening of the Polar Express at the Hyde Park Picture House. During the screening, the White Rose Centre generously sponsored refreshments, and each child left with a special chocolate gift.

“Many thanks for the movie which all the children greatly enjoyed. Truly a well appreciated treat for all of us.”

In addition, foster families were treated to a wide range of free and discounted tickets to festive events across the city including:

  • Free family tickets to the ‘The Christmas Experience’ at Lotherton Hall
  • Cinderella panto tickets for the Carriageworks theatre
  • Free family film tickets to ‘Zootropolis’ shown at Otley Courthouse
  • Free family tickets to the ‘Snow man and the Snow dog’ shown at Hyde Park Picture House
  • Discounted family tickets to Strictly Ballroom at West Yorkshire Playhouse
  • Free family tickets to see the Snowman at Leeds Town Hall

Councillor Lisa Mulherin, executive member for children and families said:

“By organising events like this, our Child Friendly Leeds ambassadors are helping to give something back to our foster carers and the children they look after. These exceptional people provide an invaluable service, giving stable and supportive homes to children in care. We have an ongoing commitment to helping them achieve the best outcomes for the children they look after, as well as recognising that they are an integral part of our team.

“Christmas can often be a difficult time for children who are in care so we are extremely grateful to all of these organisations for helping to provide these lovely treats, and supporting our aim to be the best city for children to grow up in.”

People who are interested in joining the Child Friendly Leeds network can contact: childfriendlyleeds@leeds.gov.uk or visit www.childfriendlyleeds.co.uk or follow the team on Twitter @Child_Leeds and Facebook @childfriendlyleeds.