Already a success in Australia, Orphan Christmas is gearing up for its first festive season on British soil, with the hope of bringing people closer together.
Founded just last year, the idea is that those who have nobody spend the Yuletide with can find a ‘match’ online, with others happy to welcome them along to their own festivities.
Set up by three friends, Colleen McCutcheon, Lara Ozdirik and Juliet Potter, the trio are concerned about the welfare of those who are either dealing with social isolation, or simply can’t get to their friends and family for Christmas.
“I’m hoping to connect anyone who is alone on Christmas Day,” Potter tells Stylist.co.uk. “The perception is that only the elderly or homeless are alone at Christmas, but nothing could be further from the truth.
“There are many reasons for people being alone at Christmas - from divorce and financial difficulty, to ex-pats, work transfers and kids being in hospital. The list is endless.
“We hope the website will become a way for people to meet others who may be alone, or to find and invite ‘orphans’ to your own celebration, because there's nothing worse than having to watch Elf at home alone for the 34th time.”
Due to her son being an outpatient of Sydney’s Randwick Children’s Hospital in the past, Potter has herself found it difficult to travel to spend time with friends and relatives. Instead, she regularly throws her own ‘orphan Christmas event’, welcoming others in the area who find themselves in a similar situation.
Talking to Daily Mail Australia last year, fellow co-founder Lara Ozdirik is also keen to highlight the mental health benefits of the initiative.
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A mental health advocate and ex-pat herself, Ozdirik says: “There are a lot of lonely people out there. 'I’ve been lonely before and I know what it feels like. So the thought of anyone being alone at Christmas is heartbreaking.
“I know a lot of suicides happen at this time of the year and loneliness does play a role.”
So how does it all work? First you’ll need to register, and then if you’re hosting an event, simply share the details and anyone who is interested in joining you will get in touch to make arrangements.
The platform also has a heavy focus on the importance of giving back during the Christmas period, strongly encouraging all who take part in an ‘Orphan Christmas’ to also donate to local charities.
“Orphan Christmas is about opening your home and your heart to connect, join, share and celebrate Christmas with others,” stresses the website. “ This is after all what this special time of year is all about.”
Lead image: iStock