It only takes a minute according to Take That. It depends what you’re doing of course, but it is definitely true in the case of making someone’s day. It might be smiling at a stranger in the street, picking up a child’s toy for them or giving up your seat on the bus to an older lady. Whatever it takes to create that warm, fuzzy feeling for someone, it really does just take a minute.

But how many free minutes do we have in a day…? Some days it feels like we don’t have any. Those days when you’re rushing from meeting to meeting, when you are ferrying the kids to gymnastics/brownies/football, when dinner is late yet again. Our lives are so busy sometimes that making time to do anything above and beyond the norm is increasingly tricky. But it only takes one minute.

Good Morning Britain has launched a fantastic campaign ‘One Million Minutes’ to inspire people to pledge their time to support lonely older people in their neighbourhood. There are more than 1 million older people who are chronically lonely and, chances are, there is at least one on your street. An older person whose entire family is scattered across the UK or beyond, someone whose only company on a daily basis is the TV.

You could make the world of difference to a lonely older person just by giving them a quick call, by popping round with a bit of leftover baking, by checking they’re ok during a particularly cold snap. Just giving a minute of your time could have a huge impact on someone who is chronically lonely.

But looking in on a neighbour doesn’t mean getting involved in their lives in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable. Just by providing a friendly ear you are giving that person precious social contact they would otherwise miss out on. If you do notice a deterioration in health or think that your neighbour is struggling living independently, there are places to turn to for help.

We are very lucky in Harrogate to have a thriving charity sector offering a huge range of services, activities and support groups for our ageing population. Harrogate & Ripon Centres for Voluntary Service has launched a fantastic directory listing all these services in a simple, searchable database. Where to Turn helps make sense of what is out there, enabling people to access services which could help improve their lives.

As I write an incredible 42.6 million minutes have been pledged to Good Morning Britain’s campaign. Could you be part of the wave of support for lonely older people across the UK?

We are looking for more volunteers to help socially isolated older people in our community. If you have a couple of hours spare every now and again, have access to a car and want to get involved, please get in touch. No minimum commitment is needed and training is provided. For more information contact Lizzie or Anna on 01423 813090 or drop us an email via