Michael Sheen backs #ChristmasTogether campaign as millions fear Christmas alone

More than one in five people fear they will not see anyone over the festive period and many “dread” the idea of Christmas, a poll found.

But a campaign backed by Hollywood star Michael Sheen and the Archbishop of Canterbury hopes to change that.

The #ChristmasTogether initiative calls for people to contact anyone who might be living alone or shielding – either phoning for a chat, inviting them for a Christmas game online or meeting them for a walk in the park.

You can also help strangers by signing up as an NHS Volunteer Responder.

The campaign is part of this year’s Great Winter Get Together, organised by the Jo Cox Foundation, and it appears to be needed more than ever.

Since the second lockdown began, the Royal Voluntary Service has reported a 36% increase in demand for support via the NHS Voluntary Responders scheme.

And its survey found 22% worry they will not see anyone over Christmas, while 16% said they were “dreading” the period and 55% said their plans for the holiday season would be disrupted.

Kim Leadbeater, sister of murdered MP Jo Cox and an ambassador for the foundation, said: “After such a difficult year, the Great Winter Get Together is more important than ever.

“It has been inspirational to see how communities have pulled together during such challenging times and this campaign provides the perfect platform for this to continue.

“So I encourage everyone across the UK to reach out to someone during the month so that no one feels lonely and we create as much festive cheer as possible.”

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby added: “This Christmas might feel very different than normal for many of us.

“So let’s reach out to any who might be lonely or isolated. That is one of the messages of Christmas.”

And Sheen, star of hit films including Frost/Nixon and Twilight, writes for us today to tell of seeing first-hand the kind of ­difference volunteers can make.

He says: “Mirror readers have always been fantastic in supporting campaigns like the Winter Great Get Together from the Jo Cox Foundation.

“I’m proud to be taking part and I hope you’ll join me.”