Now in its ninth year, comedian Sarah Millican’s #JoinIn campaign has connected thousands of people in need over the festive period.
Christmas is a time when most of us can expect to be surrounded by a crowd of extended family and friends sharing in the excitement of the festive season. But whether through personal choice or circumstance, the reality is that many people across the world will be spending the day alone.
Nine years ago, Sarah Millican set out on a mission to change the status quo. The comedian and TV personality decided to harness the power of the internet with a Twitter movement aimed at bringing people together who were looking for help to get through Christmas. Almost a decade later, and the #JoinIn community is now firmly a holiday tradition, allowing people to strike up conversations, find community, and spread a little festive cheer.
This year, Millican once again roused Twitter into action, asking people to follow the hashtag #JoinIn to share how they’re feeling and what they’re doing in a bid to connect those in need. “If you’re alone (and would rather not be) or feeling lonely, follow the hashtag #JoinIn and start chatting with others there,” Millican wrote in a Christmas day tweet. Naturally, the good people of Twitter answered her Christmas day call-out with the most heartwarming responses.
One mental heath nurse heading off to work on Christmas day went viral when she shared her message of support for the #JoinIn community. “Big shout out to all my fellow mental health nurses out there working hard,” she wrote.
Proving that there’s good reason for solo indulgence, another user shared her decadent Christmas dinner plans, which included all her favourite foods: lobster tails, a rib of beef, and a Heston Blumenthal pudding.
“I am on my own without any family but Ihave splashed out on all my favourite foods,” she began. “Lobster tails rib of beef & a Heston Christmas pud. I have just moved to a small village in lincolnshire and the pub is open for 2 hours so I will go over there and join in the toasts.”
One touching post explored how connection had been found by helping others in need at Christmas time. “Xmas is complicated for me and I spend it alone due to family dynamic weirdness but this year I’ve just helped cook for 100 people,” the user wrote. “All homeless, elderly or vulnerable. So happy to have done something fulfilling and productive instead of my usual moping alone at home #JoinIn”.
Another user shared a selfie from a North Sea beach in Germany, where he was out for a restorative Christmas day walk.
Meanwhile, co-founder of the Women’s Equality Party, Catherine Mayer, shared a tribute to her stepfather, who passed away shortly before Christmas. “My stepfather always cooked Christmas dinner for my mother & as many family as were around, plus “waifs & strays”, friends without plans,” she wrote. “This year he was ill, so I volunteered to cook. He died 22 Dec. I am basting, chopping & stirring in his memory & aim to do him proud #joinin”.
Another user shared a heartwarming message of encouragement for those struggling with mental health issues over the festive period.” If your rearrange the letters in Depression,” the picture reads, “You’ll get ‘I pressed on’. Your current situation is not your final destination.”
Pet Twitter also put in a strong showing, with many users sharing hilarious and adorable photos of their animals dressed up in festive costume that couldn’t fail to bring a smile to your face. Case in point: a pair of spectacular Tasmanian pademelons named French and Saunders.