VIDEO: Charity encourages people to chat with strangers to combat loneliness

Comedian Andy Parsons (from Mock the Week and Live at the Apollo) fronts a new video from the Campaign to End Loneliness to encourage people to talk more.

The film shows public reaction as Andy spends a day in a shopping centre encouraging people to get off their smartphones and have a chat. Secret cameras captured the moment surprised shoppers were approached by Andy, and despite some early awkward moments, the video shows the laughter and joy talking to strangers can bring.

The video is part of Be More Us, a nationwide movement to inspire connection, tackle loneliness and bring people together. Loneliness affects nine million people in the UK.

The video was developed off the back of research showing that small moments of connection, such as talking with strangers, can make us feel more connected in our communities and reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. Polling by the Campaign to End Loneliness found that 9 in 10 UK adults believe that these small moments of connection can help to tackle loneliness.

Commenting on the campaign, Andy said:

“I was apprehensive about just sitting down in the middle of a shopping centre and initiating conversations with total strangers. I wasn’t sure whether many people would talk to me at all, let alone whether we would get any footage we could turn into a film. As it was, everybody, without exception, was pleasant and the four hours I spent there passed incredibly quickly. Just a few words, asking someone how they are, can positively change how a person feels about their day and I would recommend the experience to everyone. If we all strive to have more conversations with the people around us, then we can spread a little happiness and help reduce loneliness in Britain. As I go around the country on tour, I shall definitely be popping into more shopping centres and looking forward to sitting down on a bench for a chat.”

Laura Alcock-Ferguson, Executive Director at the Campaign to End Loneliness, said:

“In today’s fast-paced world it’s all too easy to shut ourselves off and forget how to connect with people around us. But even a small change in behaviour – like simply saying hello to a neighbour – can make you feel better and brighten up someone else’s day too. Every one of us can make a positive difference in our communities, just by talking to each other more.”