Claire joins in kindness cult

Manchester News/November 15, 2003
By Don Frame

College worker Claire Mimnagh just can't help being nice to people - in fact kindness has become an absolute passion.

What is more bizarre in many people's eyes is that along with rapidly growing numbers of members of the Join Me movement she is dedicated to brightening the lives of total strangers.

And within the next few weeks they are hoping to have signed up hundreds more recruits across the Manchester area.

It is not some weird new cult or sect, simply a swelling band of people who want to spread happiness and get nothing but a genuine buzz from doing so.

It may involve paying for the cup of tea that the person in front of you in the café queue has just ordered, offering to carry an elderly person's shopping or simply giving someone a dazzling smile for absolutely no reason at all.

It all began as something of a joke when Londoner Danny Wallace put a wacky advert into a newspaper saying Join Me.

All people had to do was mail him a passport photo, and to his amazement, though they didn't know why or what they were joining, people did.

Realising he had a potential force that could be harnessed for the power of good, he decided the object would be to improve the lives of total strangers, if only for a moment or two.

Now there are more than 40,000 'Joinees' worldwide, whose ranks include everyone from policemen to pensioners.


Claire who lives in Accrington said: "Every Friday we try to carry out a random act of kindness for someone we meet and basically spread the word.

"I got involved after reading about the movement. In an age where people are often so negative, it seemed a brilliant idea and it's both non-religious and non-political."

Claire, 24, has bought cakes for everyone in her office building, sent random goodwill text messages to strangers by mobile phone and even shocked a couple at the cinema by presenting them with a bag of Jelly Babies.

"Most people, though surprised, react with pleasure," she says. But others will reject what you are offering out of hand. They think there's an ulterior motive which is understandable, but a little sad."

She said: "Once you have overcome your initial embarrassment, it gives you a real buzz."

Members spread the word by text messages, e-mails and leaflets which are handed out in towns and cities.

And tomorrow they are hoping that as many people as possible will join the Lancashire collective at a Join Meet at Waxy O'Connors in Manchester's Printworks.

Claire said: "It will be the first of its kind in Manchester and we are hoping for a really good turnout. It should be a lot of fun, there will be a few drinks and then it's off into the city centre to make people smile."

Founder Danny Wallace said: "The Karma Army is becoming truly international, and that fact alone has been enough to prove one, vital universal truth to me: people are essentially good."

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