London volunteer group the Topé Project is to host a special event in London on Christmas Day for people who have left care and are now living on their own in the capital.
Christmas in the Crypt will be held at a special location, with attendees given a free taxi ride to the venue on the day. The event has been designed to bring together frequently isolated care leavers and create “positive memories”.
In an article for the Guardian entitled Christmas is the day when care leavers are reminded they don’t have a family, the project’s Jerome Harvey Agyei, a care leaver himself, describes the event as “the realisation of a dream for our youth-led voluntary group”. The Christmas event has been organised with the help of assistance and donations from other charities, local authorities and even the Cabinet Office.
The Topé Project is “a volunteer project aiming to combat loneliness at Christmas” for young people who have left care. It was named a close friend of Mr Agyei, also a care leaver. Topé took his own life at the age of 23.
The project’s Facebook page now bears the tagline: “In memory of Topé – turning pain into positivity”.
Writing in the Guardian, Mr Agyei said:
“Isolation is a huge problem for people who have been in care and are ejected from the system at 18, if they have left education. Because of this, interest in our project has grown substantially.”
“Looked after children come from backgrounds where they may have been abused or neglected – and then, suddenly, they don’t have a family. They hear their friends chatting about ‘their mum this, their dad that’ and they realise they are different. They are moved placements, they don’t know who they are any more, and low self-esteem is prevalent.
Topé was so positive, even on his last day; he came to visit us and he was still smiling. It’s so sad that he couldn’t talk to us and scary that we couldn’t tell.”