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Reach Plc aims to connect diverse people through free online chats

Posted on: May 11, 2020 by Ian Murray

Reach Plc has launched an online initiative to connect people in the UK by video links as lockdown continues for many.

Britain Connects is a free to use feature that the publisher says aims to put people in touch from diverse backgrounds and with equally diverse opinions. 

The publishers says the feature is a timely twist on its Britain Talks platform created last year which matched up readers with polarised views on the Brexit debate and arranged for them to have face-to-face meetings. This is the latest in a drive of reader-engagement initiatives set up by the publisher. Last week 400,000 readers responded to Reach’s Great Big Lockdown Survey which is said to have painted a picture of how households across the country have experienced the lockdown.

“This year’s version will focus on social closeness in a time of physical distancing – with video chats instead of face-to-face meetings – while still encouraging people with different views to come together and explore what unites them,” stated Reach.

“Supported by a custom platform (built by the Behavioural Insights Team) appearing across the Reach online network of national and regional titles, readers of all news brands will be prompted to fill in questionnaires and find their Britain Connects match. They will then be asked to sit down with their conversation partner on May 22 or May 24 over video chat.” 

The project is being led by award-winning Mirror journalist Ros Wynne-Jones, who said: “Last year’s project came at the height of Brexit tensions dividing the nation. While we undoubtedly still live in a very polarised world, it will be fascinating to see how the pandemic has changed the way we feel about our fellow citizens.

“In addition, thousands of people are struggling with loneliness and isolation right now and we hope this will give many of them the chance to simply enjoy some social contact.”

Britain Connects is supported across the Reach portfolio of national and regional newsbrands, including by its famously opposing nationals the Mirror and the Express. Both Mirror Editor-in-Chief Alison Phillips and Express Editor-in-Chief Gary Jones will be participating in the chats, along with many other editors and columnists.  

Reach explains to its readers:

“The aim is to speak to someone you might not usually meet, to find out what they are like and explore what our nation has in common, whatever our political or other differences.

“We hope that by connecting people as we reach peak isolation during the coronavirus crisis, we can help bring the country together. With your help, this could be a unique moment of connection – and a positive and meaningful way of marking a one-off moment in global history and all of our lives.”

“To take part, all you need to do is fill in our questionnaire online via the link below. We’ll do the rest. We will match people across age, across geography, across life experience and across political lines. Whoever we are, we all facing this together.”

More information on how to register can be found here