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'Epidemic of loneliness' sees helpline for elderly get millionth call

25-Aug-16
Article By: Angeline Albert, News Editor

The Silver Line, the helpline for lonely older people has got its millionth call just two years after being set up and is struggling to keep up with its callers’ need to talk to someone.

Esther Rantzen appeared on Good Morning Britain to discuss the millionth call Credit: ITV

Dame Esther Rantzen who founded the charity in November 2013, said she has been stunned by the extent of loneliness felt among Britain's older people.

She said: “I knew there was a need for the helpline but to answer one million calls in such a short space of time is desperately sad.

“Calls to the helpline increase almost every week as we uncover the epidemic of loneliness among our oldest and most vulnerable people.

“Our callers tell us that nights can be the worst times of all when they really need someone to talk to and confide in.

“We urgently need more donations to keep the night-time service going so we are always there for the people who need us most.”

90 per cent of callers are home alone

More than two thirds of all calls (700,000) are received overnight and at weekends. More than half of all callers say they have no one else to speak to apart from The Silver Line and 90 per cent of callers live alone.

As well as running the helpline, The Silver Line has 3,000 volunteers who make regular friendship calls, or exchange letters with older people. The charity also makes 1,500 ‘keeping in touch’ calls every week to isolated older people.

The cost of calls to the helpline and its other friendship services are paid for by the donations it receives. The growing demand from lonely older people means The Silver Line needs to raise £1.65 million to pay for the night-time and weekends service.

Without more public donations the charity says it could be forced to close its out-of-hours service.

The free, national, confidential helpline is reached by calling 0800 470 80 90 and is the only helpline specifically for older people. It is available 24/7 including Christmas and bank holidays.

To make a donation to the helpline, visit the website www.thesilverline.org.uk/donate

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