Understanding loneliness: Key findings from GMB’s ‘1 Million Minutes’ campaign

Emily Whitton
By Emily Whitton,
updated on Dec 14, 2023

Person stood looking out at sunset.

With more and more people reporting feelings of loneliness and disconnect, we explore the key findings from Good Morning Britain's '1 Million Minutes' campaign

Loneliness is an epidemic, not just in the UK but across the globe. In Britain alone, around three million people over the age of 16 reported feeling lonely "often or always"  in 2021-2022. With increasing numbers of people feeling isolated and disconnected, it has never been more important to shed light on the issue. This is particularly true in a period of economic uncertainty and the pressures that can naturally add weight at this time of year, as we head into the festive season.

Eight years on from its launch, the Good Morning Britain ‘1 Million Minutes’ campaign is back to tackle the issue at hand. The initiative encourages viewers to pledge their time to charities that aim to combat loneliness. Whether it’s organising a community tea party or regularly checking in with vulnerable people on the phone, there are so many ways to get involved. What’s more, the campaign has seen a huge 522 million minutes donated to charities since 2016!

As part of the campaign, Good Morning Britain has launched their anti-loneliness bus, a Route Master 1965 special, which will be touring the UK over the next few weeks. If it’s parked up in your area, you can simply hop on board for a cuppa and a chat. You can find out more about the route by keeping an eye out on GMB’s socials.

The bus began its journey in Brighton last week, where one of our directory members, Donna Morgan, was able to offer her support. In her article, Insights on loneliness from the Good Morning Britain bus,’ Donna, a humanistic mental health therapist, sheds light on her experience.

“[It] provided me with a unique opportunity to delve deeper into this pressing issue and connect with people on a personal level… The idea of taking therapy out of the office and onto a bus was an innovative way to reach individuals who might not otherwise seek help.” 

What does loneliness mean? 

Loneliness is the feeling we can get when our need for connection and relationships isn’t met. What may be loneliness for one person may not be the same experience shared by another. Loneliness is not the same as being alone; people can experience feelings of loneliness even if they’re surrounded by friends or family.

“It’s not just the physical state of being alone; rather, it's the emotional disconnect that leaves people feeling adrift,” says Donna. “I met people from various backgrounds, each yearning for authentic, meaningful relationships. This emphasised the need for genuine connections in our increasingly digital world.” 

How to manage feelings of loneliness 

Below, Donna shares some reflections and suggestions to help you manage or prevent loneliness, especially during the festive season:

  • Reaching out: Sometimes, just talking to someone – a friend, family member or even a therapist – can make a big difference. It’s okay to share how you're feeling.
  • Finding your people: Joining groups or communities that share your interests can be a comforting way to feel less alone.
  • Kindness to self: It’s important to remember that it’s perfectly normal to feel lonely at times. Treating yourself with kindness and understanding is key.
  • Balanced social media use: Social media can be a mixed bag. It’s alright to step back from it occasionally to focus on real-life connections.
  • Professional support: If loneliness feels overwhelming, there’s no harm in seeking help from someone who can guide and support you.
  • Valuing solitude: There's a beauty in solitude that allows for personal reflection and growth. It’s different from loneliness and can be quite enriching.
  • Volunteering: Giving your time to help others can not only be fulfilling but can also lead to forming meaningful relationships.

How can I pledge my time? 

Good Morning Britain has teamed up with several charities that connect with those who feel alone. You can find out more about the ‘1 Million Minutes’ volunteering opportunities by visiting their websites below.

“My experience in Brighton was a powerful reminder of how vital it is to address loneliness, not just as a personal challenge, but as a community. We all need a little help sometimes and there's strength in reaching out and making connections.” 

You can find out more about counselling for loneliness on the Counselling Directory, where you can also find an in-person or online therapist, or you can connect with Donna by visiting her profile

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