Keeping the spirit of connection alive through the Have a Chat campaign

One of the things I will remember most vividly about this year is the glimpse it has given me of what it means to be separated from those we care about. When we went into the first national lockdown to control COVID-19, I saw – and felt – the impact of loneliness and disconnection on my colleagues at Bristol Myers Squibb. We worked hard to find ways to support each other and stay connected from afar, even setting up a virtual choir. Through our ongoing work with patient groups and charities, I also saw the effect of isolation and loneliness on patients, their families and carers during lockdown. It was clear we had to use our resources to help others experiencing loneliness.

When we asked the public about their experiences, almost half of respondents (48%) agreed that staying in touch with people during lockdown helped them overcome any feelings of loneliness they might have had. In fact, 59% agreed that they felt that staying connected to people had become more important to them since the lockdown restrictions came into place.1

That got us thinking: how could we help keep the spirit of connection alive for those who may still be isolated and feeling lonely, and those who will experience loneliness even after COVID-19?

This is why we have joined forces with the Campaign to End Loneliness to launch the Have A Chat campaign. Through an inspiring video choreographed by former Strictly Come Dancing Judge, Arlene Phillips, we are raising awareness of the powerful impact of simply checking in and chatting with someone who might be feeling lonely.

“It is more important than ever to think about those who may be impacted by loneliness. We are asking people to take the time to check-in with those around you, because we know that this can make a real difference. Bristol Myers Squibb shares our aim of helping to end loneliness and our belief that small steps can have a big impact when it comes to tackling loneliness.” Daniel Pattison, Head of Communications, Campaign to End Loneliness.

I believe passionately that we as a company have a role to play in the health of our communities. Not only is loneliness upsetting, it also comes with an increased risk of diseases including coronary heart disease and stroke.2 Unlike our innovative medicines, the solution to loneliness won’t come from our laboratories – it will come from each and every one of us taking a moment to connect with those around us.

Through our work with the Campaign to End Loneliness and other community volunteering projects, we are taking action to drive meaningful change for people and our communities. We cannot tackle loneliness alone and by raising awareness of this issue, we hope we encourage others to make the small connections that can have a powerful impact, and help to end loneliness together.

Join the campaign and find out how you can help at https://www.bms.com/gb/about-us/responsibility/have-a-chat.html

Lynelle Hoch is General Manager, United Kingdom and Ireland, at Bristol Myers Squibb

References:

1. Have A Chat survey, commissioned by Bristol Myers Squibb in partnership with the Campaign to End Loneliness, carried out by Ipsos MORI, October 2020. Data on file

2. Valtorta, N.K., Kanaan, M., Gilbody, S., Ronzi, S. and Hanratty, B., 2016. Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for coronary heart disease and stroke: systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal observational studies. Heart, 102(13), pp.1009-1016.

NOUK2001000-04 November 2020