THOUSANDS of Brits rang a bell on their doorsteps this evening to spread “hope and togetherness” this Christmas Eve.
Mum-of-two Mary Beggs-Reid dreamed up the campaign following the popularity of the weekly Clap For Carers during the first Covid lockdown.
Lillian Joy, aged three and her mum, Bethan, ring a bell to spread festive cheer outside their home in Swansea, south WalesCredit: Robert Melen
A resident in Saltburn, North Yorkshire steps out to spread festive cheer and ring a bell this eveningCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Residents in Wednesbury, West Mids, ring their bells as they take part in campaign against lonelinessCredit: @WednesburyWMP
A local in Blackwood, Wales takes part in the Christmas Eve jingle Credit: Getty Images – Getty
A woman rings bells from the doorstep of her house in Rhiwbina in Cardiff, WalesCredit: Getty Images – Getty
A woman in Saltburn, North Yorkshire improvises and bangs a pot and pan to spread cheer this Christmas EveCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Dorset County Hospital staff ring their bells as part of a campaign against lonelinessCredit: @DCHFT
Mary, 41, from Harrogate, North Yorks, teamed up with the Together Campaign, a coalition of community groups and organisations, which urged the public to “give someone a bell” over the festive period.
It is working with the Royal Voluntary Service and The Sun as part of our Christmas Together campaign, aiming to lift the spirits of anyone who is feeling lonely or isolated this Christmas.
Dorset County Hospital staff were pictured ringing their bells enthusiastically as part of the campaign.
And families from Exeter to Swansea braved the cold to spread festive cheer.
Mary, a property manager, originally intended to get just her own street involved but after creating a Facebook group in October, word quickly spread.
The Sun’s Christmas Together campaign
THIS Christmas we are teaming up with the Together Campaign, a coalition of community groups and organisations, and Royal Voluntary Service to combat loneliness.
And we want to recruit an army of volunteers to support those feeling cut off, anxious and isolated, this Christmas.
Could YOU reach out to someone who might be struggling and alone?
It might be someone you know in your own life or community who needs support.
Or we can connect you with someone in need through the NHS Volunteer responder programme run by the NHS, Royal Voluntary Service and the GoodSAM app.
Could you give up half an hour to make a call and chat with someone feeling isolated? Or could you volunteer to deliver essential shopping or festive treats?
Go to nhsvolunteerresponders.org.uk/christmastogether to sign up as a volunteer.
You will then receive an email taking you through the sign up process and be asked to download the responder app which will match you to those in need in your area.
Don’t worry if you don’t get a job straight away, because jobs are matched according to the need local to you. Being ready to help is what really matters.
A family from Exeter ring bells outside their house to spread hope and togetherness this yearCredit: @LauraMChiverton
Gemma Hawtin’s mum Jill in Leeds rings her bell as she takes part in the campaign Credit: @gvhawtin
Mary Beggs-Reid is calling on people to ring a bell from their doorsteps for two minutes at 6pm this Christmas EveCredit: SWNS:South West News Service
Now her idea has gone viral, with 445,000 people set to join in to spread festive cheer after a year of hardship.
It comes as strict coronavirus rules have brought agony for millions of Brits, many of whom will not be able to spend Christmas with their family this year.
Ms Beggs-Reid said a bit of positivity was “needed more than ever”.
She added: “For some it will not change anything but for others it will be heartbreaking.
“This will be our happy moment. Covid cannot take this from us, so ring louder.
“This year the Christmas spirit is so needed and for two minutes we can make sure nobody feels alone.”
Mary’s idea has gone viral, with 445,000 people set to join in (pictured with son Dexter)Credit: SWNS:South West News Service
Loneliness by numbers
1 in 5 people who live alone will spend Christmas on their own
60% said they had felt more lonely during the pandemic
37% people know someone who will be spending Christmas alone
16% Brits said they were ‘dreading’ Christmas
52% said they have helped a vulnerable person during the pandemic
4.2 million adults always or often felt lonely during the second national lockdown
16 to 29-year-olds are twice as likely as the over-70s to be experiencing loneliness in the pandemic
£5.9m marked by Government pilot to tackle loneliness
Mary, who lives with her husband Paul, 41, a security manager, and children Eva, 14, and ten-year-old Dexter, last week said local shops have run low on bells as thousands of Brits jumped on board.
She adds: “The manager of Home Bargains in York said they sold out in a day.
“But you don’t need a bell. There are phone apps you can get to recreate the sound, or you could try making your own.
“One lady told me she had put bottle tops in a bag and it sounds just like sleigh bells.”
Mary says if it helps one person feel less alone this Christmas, it will be worth it.
She adds: “It’s a simple idea to show that even at a time when we can’t all be with each other, we can still do something that sends a message of hope and togetherness.”
Now get involved
COULD you call someone feeling lonely this Christmas or deliver essential shopping or festive treats?
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