2020 has been an unprecedented and challenging year. Many of us are now approaching Christmas in a new way with, understandably, mixed feelings. Anxiety, grief, uncertainty, and isolation may be new to some, but for many care experienced children and young people, these are feelings that are intensified by the Christmas season each year.

At NYAS our mission is shaped by the needs of the children and young people that we support. Our Campaigns Advisory Group are care experienced young people aged 18-25, who advise on all aspects of NYAS campaigning. They work directly with our Head of Policy and Research to use their knowledge and experience of the care system to help us influence politicians and decision makers, generating a huge impact for other care experienced young people.

They have put together their 5 top tips for care experienced children and young people ahead of a time that can be difficult to navigate for some.


  1. Be kind to yourself

“Christmas can be a really chaotic time, with lots of people visiting and your usual routine going out of the window. This can be really overwhelming at times and something I’ve found helpful is having a ‘safe space’, ready to take some time out whenever I need to. Being able to escape to my bedroom for some peace and quiet makes the world of difference. It’s important to be open with your carers and let them know that you may need some space during this time.

You may feel obligated to visit the family you have over Christmas, but if the thought of this is too much, remember you don’t have to do anything that makes you uncomfortable. If you choose to visit, make sure you have all the phone numbers you may need in case you feel like you want to return to your carers early.” – Karim


  1. Share a little bit of yourself

“Don’t be afraid to share a little bit of yourself with your carers. If there is something that you always enjoy doing, eating, or watching over the Christmas period – let them know! The traditions of your family are still important, even if you’re not able to be with them and if it’s possible your carers will try their hardest to include your wishes in the festivities. If there’s something that worries you about the festive season, do your best to let your carers know, so that they know what support you might need from them.

Equally, don’t be afraid to get involved with your carer’s festive traditions! Why not help them decorate the tree or see if you can get involved in the cooking? This could be a fun way to learn some new skills and try some new things.” – Mia


  1. Take a break from your phone

“I try to stay off social media on Christmas Day – I just reply to messages from my friends. Sometimes seeing how other people are spending Christmas makes me feel sad, especially seeing families all gathered together when I can’t be with mine. Even if I’m having a nice day, something like that can throw me off.

In the past I’ve tried to capture those pictures of the ‘perfect’ Christmas, but now I focus on making memories because I know I don’t need to prove anything to anyone about the type of Christmas I’m having.” – Beth


  1. Spend time in our care community

“Carers, friends and family all do their best to support me emotionally at Christmas, but they’ll never understand how I feel in the same way that someone else that has been in care does. I was worried about my first Christmas as a care leaver, but then I found out about my local Christmas Dinner and I decided to go down and see what it was like. I really enjoyed spending Christmas Day with other care experienced young people who understood how hard this time of year can be. There was a community and support network there that I wasn’t expecting, and I’d encourage any other care leavers that aren’t sure where they fit this Christmas to reach out to their local Christmas Dinner too.” – Simon


  1. Remember – it’s about doing what’s best for YOU!

“Christmas as a care leaver can be really daunting at first, but eventually I came to like that I’m not obligated to go anywhere I don’t want to go or see anyone I don’t want to see. It’s taken a little while but now I really enjoy that freedom.

It’s easy to start thinking, ‘I’ve never had the Christmas I truly wanted,’ and start setting really high standards for all the things you’re going to do to celebrate, but this is still going to be a challenging time of year and you need to be realistic and take things slowly.

Also, it’s perfectly fine to decide that you don’t want to do any ‘festive things’ at all and just spend the season doing the things that you like such as watching your favourite films, gaming or listening to music.” – Jaspreet


*All names have been changed.


Could you help us support care experienced children and young people?

Children in care and care leavers have already faced unimaginable challenges at such a young age, having a huge impact on their mental health and well-being. With your support, we can provide them with access to advocacy, advice and representation or support services including positive activities and projects, ensuring their voices are heard.

You can make a Christmas donation by clicking here.

If you would like any support in fundraising for NYAS please contact Siubhán & Corinne at fundraising@nyas.net