Secret Santa Christmas dinners for families in need

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Chef Dave Critchley has inspired the Secret Santa Christmas dinner project

A Liverpool chef has set out to ensure hundreds of families across Merseyside will not go without a Christmas dinner this year.

Lu Ban restaurant has teamed up with a host of partners to provide some of the region’s poorest families with a festive meal as part of a Secret Santa initiative.

The Chinese inspired restaurant is working with Wirral City Council, LFC Red Neighbours, Knowsley Kitchen, One Knowsley, Radio City Cash For Kids and LIDS delivery to supply families in the area with a meal on Christmas day.

Chef Dave Critchley, whose idea it was to start this project and is executive chef director at Lu Ban, told JMU Journalism: “We have started the Secret Santa programme which is providing a Christmas dinner that can be cooked at home for a family that may not be able to afford it.

“The reason I’ve called it Secret Santa is because I want people to forget about all that usual rubbish, the normal Secret Santa gift people would normally spend £5 to £10 over Christmas on a gift no one really needs or wants. Instead, think about a family that will benefit from that money far more than an office worker or colleague.”

The goal is for up to 600 families to be given a Christmas day meal but Mr Critchley believes that 1,000 families can be reached as a result of the backing from the project’s partners.

Said Mr Critchley: “We think a box reaching a family is going to have a big impact on that family. It could be the difference between a really good Christmas and a pretty miserable time, so on ground level we think it’s going to have a massive impact.”

This comes after the Trussell Trust, that runs over 1,200 of the 2,000 foodbanks in the UK, have  shown the number of food parcels distributed by its network is at an all time high.

According to the charity, the number of food parcels distributed in the UK between April to September this year was 1,239,399 compared to 843,655 the year before, and over double the number in 2017.

The Lu Ban restaurant is set to close to focus efforts on providing meals for those in need

During this period the North West ranks second in the number of emergency parcels received (154,096) only behind London (210,006), with the rate expected to continue to rise throughout winter.

Mr Critchley said: “As a city it’s really deeply worrying that in 2020 any projects like this are even necessary.

“I’ve seen since March and the first lockdown some pretty disturbing scenes and some pretty worrying stats in relation to child poverty and families living in real financial difficulties at the moment and the coronavirus has only really amplified that.

“The government need to have a good look at what’s happening. I feel they are very detached from the people we are helping at the moment and they don’t really seem to see a problem.”

The Lu Ban restaurant is set to close in the coming weeks so staff can focus all their attention on producing Christmas dinners.



About Liam Kennedy, JMU Journalism