The Silver Line helpline – the UK’s only 24 hour free and confidential helpline for older people was launched in November 2013 by the founder of ChildLine Dame Esther Rantzen. DBE Esther had experienced feeling lonely first-hand following the death of her husband, Desmond Wilcox – but recognised the pride felt by the ‘stiff upper lip’ generation that made them reticent to talk about their loneliness. The Silver Line was set up to help break through the stigma of loneliness and isolation, while also tackling problems of abuse and neglect.
The Silver Line offers friendship, information and advice to callers around the clock – which includes signposting them to local services and activities in their community – or just the opportunity to have a chat.
Since its launch, around 1.4 million calls have been made to the Helpline, from older people who feel lonely, isolated or confused; two-thirds of these were made overnight or on weekends when no other service is available. The Helpline now receives around 10,000 calls every week, with 80% of callers phoning for the first time. Over 50% of callers say they have literally no-one else to speak to.
Alongside the Helpline, over 3,000 volunteer Silver Line Friends make weekly friendship calls to older people. Silver Circles provides group calls for people with shared interests, akin to a virtual coffee morning. And Silver Letters, a ‘pen pal’ service, is for people who prefer the written word or are hearing impaired.
The Insurance Charities is delighted to be partnering with The Silver Line. We are contacting our older beneficiaries to ask them if they would like to receive a weekly phone call or letter or would like to volunteer to become a Friend. You can find out more about The Silver Line on their website.
We wanted to do something more for our older beneficiaries as often when we contacted them they would tell us they were lonely and felt isolated. Recent studies show that:
- 12% of older people feel trapped in their own home;
- 6% of older people leave their house once a week or less;
- 17% of older people are in contact with family, friends and neighbours less than once a week, and 11% are in contact less than once a month;
- over half (51%) of all people aged 75 and over live alone.
Let’s work together to remove the sadness of loneliness which too many of our older friends experience.