SHE’S known for her larger than life personality, hilarious one-liners and outrageous antics.
But behind her daring on-screen diva behaviour, Gemma Collins has admitted to having secretly struggled with loneliness.
The 39-year-old former Towie star and boutique owner split from on/off boyfriend James 'Arg' Argent, 33, in July, leaving her heartbroken.
And with social-distancing and lockdown restrictions, she hasn’t had the distractions of a busy social life to keep her occupied – meaning she’s spent long periods of time stuck in her own head.
She is now backing The Sun’s Christmas Together campaign which is shining a light on loneliness and how it can affect anyone.
‘Lockdown has not been good for my love life’
Gemma, who owns a successful fashion store in Essex, first found fame on The Only Way is Essex before winning millions of fans and landing her very own TV show and podcast.
But while her success onscreen has seen her fame and fortune soar, Gemma's love life has suffered huge ups and downs.
She first dated Arg back in 2012 after meeting on the set of Towie – before reuniting years later – and remained by his side as he bravely battled drug addiction.
However, the pair have suffered several high-profile break ups over recent years and they finally called it quits in July.
The Sun’s Christmas Together campaign
THIS Christmas we are teaming up with the Together Campaign, a coalition of community groups and organisations, and Royal Voluntary Service to combat loneliness.
And we want to recruit an army of volunteers to support those feeling cut off, anxious and isolated, this Christmas.
Could YOU reach out to someone who might be struggling and alone?
It might be someone you know in your own life or community who needs support.
Or we can connect you with someone in need through the NHS Volunteer responder programme run by the NHS, Royal Voluntary Service and the GoodSAM app.
Could you give up half an hour to make a call and chat with someone feeling isolated? Or could you volunteer to deliver essential shopping or festive treats?
Go to nhsvolunteerresponders.org.uk/christmastogether to sign up as a volunteer.
You will then receive an email taking you through the sign up process and be asked to download the responder app which will match you to those in need in your area.
Don’t worry if you don’t get a job straight away, because jobs are matched according to the need local to you. Being ready to help is what really matters.
Speaking about being single in 2020, Gemma tells The Sun: "I’ve found the evenings a bit lonely.
"I am a very sociable person and I like to go out and about so for me the evenings are tough.
"It is hard, lockdown has not been good for my love life, but I think we’re slowly coming out of it now hopefully.
"I think intuitively the universe gives you the right person at the right time so it’s all going to fall into place.”
‘You can’t run from yourself’
Gemma has had a particularly traumatic year as she also suffered a miscarriage in July – something she says was a “devastating loss on my longed-for journey to motherhood”.
While she’s been unable to see her friends as she normally would, she’s tried to keep herself distracted at home – even filming a spin-off show called Diva on Lockdown, following her life stuck indoors.
She says: "The thing about this year and the lockdowns is you can’t run from yourself, you've kind of got to get to know yourself a bit more.
"I've also been checking in on other people more often than normal; just checking that everyone’s mental health is OK helps.
"It all starts in the mind, I think because if your mind is in the right place you’ve got your ducks in a row and I think that’s one thing that has come out of this year.
“I think people have really had more time to concentrate on their health."
And Gemma has ensured her health has remained a top priority too, having shed three stone throughout the last year.
Celebrating her achievement, she has been dazzling fans with a series of photos on Instagram over the last few months, showing off her slimmed-down figure.
‘I think the Tour De France is going to be on the phone’
While both national lockdowns have stripped people of many of their day-to-day passions, experts have recommended finding a new hobby you can do safely – and Gemma now swears by it.
The TV favourite is a self-confessed country girl at heart, and says she has spent her free time in lockdown going on long walks, feeding the horses and has taken up cycling.
It's helped take her mind off her loneliness and focus on self-love.
"I’ve been doing a lot of cycling," Gemma says.
"I think the Tour De France is going to be on the phone the minute they know how much I love cycling, it’s just fun.
"It's been nice to get around London on the bike, I'm like a tourist. It's been beautiful."
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