Campaign inspires others to make ‘moments of connection’

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A NEW campaign aimed at inspiring “small moments of connection” has launched after research revealed more than half of people in Yorkshire feel it has been a long time since they made a new friend or valued connection.

The Campaign to End Loneliness, launch partners in The Yorkshire Post’s award-winning Loneliness: The Hidden Epidemic campaign, have started the ‘Be More Us’ movement to bring people together after a survey revealed that almost half of people of Yorkshire say that their busy lives stop them from connecting with others.

Around the UK, almost nine in 10 adults believe that small moments of connection can help to tackle loneliness, the poll showed. It also examined the reasons why society had become more lonely, and found that eight out of 10 adults believe that the UK is divided. However, a similar amount so agree that small moments of connection, such as making small talk on the bus or smiling at people, can break down divisions. Almost nine in 10 people agree that small moments of connection like these are a valuable way of tackling loneliness.

The charity, which is funded by the Big Lottery Fund, hopes ‘Be More Us’ will help to tackle loneliness by bringing people together.

Executive director of the Campaign to End Loneliness, Laura Alcock-Ferguson, said: “Loneliness and isolation are on the rise, and people fear the UK is divided. But our research shows that the majority of people believe that small moments of connection, that anyone can get involved with, are valuable. They can tackle loneliness, break down divisions and bring people together.

“Over three-quarters of people who think there is a division in society agree that if we made more time to connect, we’d be less divided. Even in our busy lives, we can all do something. That’s why Be More Us will elevate small moments of connection, like saying hello to someone in your local shop or smiling at someone on the bus. Small moments count, and they should be celebrated.

“Big national events, like the Olympics or the World Cup, give us an excuse to connect. The royal wedding is in ten days and it’s the perfect way to start to Be More Us. Get involved with your community by going to a street party, or invite your neighbour who lives alone out for a drink.”

The idea has been backed by Tracey Crouch, who earlier this year was appointed as the Government’s Minister for Loneliness after Theresa May accepted the recommendations of the year-long Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness in full. She said: “I am committed to working with communities, charities and businesses to create a society in which everyone has the support they need, no matter what age they are. Small moments of connection are an important part of this.”

Researchers also about attitudes to the issue, and three quarters of people in Yorkshire said they thought more should be done by society to tackle loneliness - higher than the national average of 72 per cent.

Damaging effects of isolation

The Yorkshire Post has been campaigning to highlight the devastating health effects of loneliness, which can be as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, since 2014.

We launched the Loneliness: The Hidden Epidemic campaign after revealing the heartbreaking scale of social isolation in the region, which takes it toll on 91,300 older people.

We want loneliness to be universally recognised as a health priority in our communities. According to research, living with loneliness can also contribute to dementia and high blood pressure. For more, visit yorkshirepost.co.uk/loneliness