Comedian Andy Parsons is fronting a new video campaign encouraging people to talk more and tackle loneliness.
The film shows public reaction as the ‘Mock the Week’ star spends a day at the shopping centre urging people to get off their smartphones and have a chat.
Secret cameras capture the moment surprised shoppers were approached by Parsons, and despite some early awkward moments, the film shows the laughter and joy talking to strangers can bring.
The video is part of Be More Us, a nationwide movement launched by the Campaign to End Loneliness to inspire connection and bring people together.
Loneliness affects nine million people in the UK, according to research conducted by the Red Cross.
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.
A survey 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.
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.”
Commenting on the campaign, Andy Parsons 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. “
Minister for Loneliness, Mims Davies MP commented: “Loneliness is one of the biggest public health challenges in this country, and we know that making new connections is a great way to prevent or overcome feelings of loneliness. I hope this new campaign will help bring people together and show how just a short conversation can help brighten someone’s mood and make them feel less alone.”