Comment Writer Emily Hunt argues that large companies have the power to help combat loneliness with clever campaigns
At the beginning of September this year, Cadbury unveiled that their latest shipment of Dairy Milk bars would look very different to normal. In an effort to raise awareness about the high levels of loneliness amongst the older generation Cadbury ‘donated the words’ from their classic purple and white packaging, leaving only the iconic glass and a half logo.
This move was in partnership with Age UK, and 30p per bar was donated to help the charity continue to support people aged 75 and over with initiatives such as their telephone friendship service. In studies published on the Age UK website, shocking figures show that loneliness can be as harmful for our health as fifteen cigarettes a day, and that over 225,000 older people often go a whole week without speaking to anyone face to face.
Whilst this move by Cadbury is an incredibly positive one to help raise awareness and gain financial support for those represented by these figures, it begs the question whether this issue of loneliness in the UK is solely affecting those aged 75 and over. The 2016-2017 Community Life Survey, published by the Office of National Statistics, states that young adults aged 16 to 24 reported feeling lonely more often than those in older age groups, showing that the British loneliness epidemic isn’t restricted to one age group.
Students living in Selly Oak may have seen the Permission to Smile campaign banners on their walk into campus. This local campaign began in Birmingham in May 2018 and seeks to remind people that you can have a positive impact on the lives and well-being of those around you, simply by undertaking friendly actions such as smiling or saying hello. The campaign has already been well received by schools and local communities and has seen people become empowered to take an active role in bringing others together, breaking the ice with those who do find themselves isolated or lonely.
Following the success of this local initiative, perhaps more wide-reaching companies similar to Cadbury should follow suit and generate campaigns raising awareness of loneliness in society, encouraging face to face communication between people of all ages. If companies with large audiences use their voice positively to highlight the rising problem of loneliness in British society, people can be reminded that it is okay to look up, smile and say hello to a stranger. You never know, you might just make their day.