Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 July 2019

‘No one should be alone at Eid’: Twitter campaign aims to tackle British Muslim loneliness

Charity worker Jamilla Hekmoun's mission to bring the Muslim community together

Muslims celebrate Eid in London. Reuters
Muslims celebrate Eid in London. Reuters

As the holy month of Ramadan draws to a close, the three million Muslims living in the UK look forward to celebrating Eid with family, friends and the wider community.

But for some Muslims, Eid can be a lonely time of the year if they have no one around them to celebrate with.

While at Christmas there is a big drive by charities and individuals to ensure no one spends the day alone, because Islam is a growing but minority religion the same cannot be said for Eid.

Charity worker Jamilla Hekmoun used to experience Eid by herself. She grew up with a non-Muslim mother and stepfather in the seaside town of Eastbourne in southern England, where the Islamic population is very small.

Three years ago, Ms Hekmoun decided to start a social media campaign aimed at bringing together Muslims who do not have anyone to share the three-day festival with.

“I’ve had lots of Eids by myself and it’s not nice so I just wanted people not to be alone and know that they’ve got another option so they don’t feel lonely,” she told The National.

“People who are newer to the UK or people who have converted so they might not know anyone else in the community. They could be nervous about going to the mosque, so other bigger events can help them.”

Towards the end of Ramadan, Ms Hekmoun finds Eid celebration events across the country which anyone can attend and posts them to her Twitter feed.

This year, the 25-year-old has been inundated with responses from Muslims asking where they can find events in their own towns.

From a big Eid lunch to celebrate neighbourliness in Oxford to an Eid festival in a park in Glasgow, Ms Hekmoun has scoured the length and breadth of the UK to find an event for anyone to go to.

“It’s been really successful and people have been very grateful. As long as I can help at least one person to not feel lonely then job done,” she said.

“I hope they can read my thread and find something they can do to make them closer to the people around them.”

Despite her bid to help others, Ms Hekmoun still does not know where she will celebrate the festival.

“The irony is I haven’t made plans myself,” she laughed. “Because we don’t know which day it will be on. My work colleagues are very understanding though and I will call them the night before and let them know I won’t be in.”

Updated: June 3, 2019 07:24 PM

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