CEO of charity The Silver Line discusses tackling loneliness
The Silver Line charity, set up by Dame Esther Rantzen in 2013, is already taking 28 calls an hour, equivalent to 21,000 a month. Covid has seen demand shoot up by a third, with even more people expected to turn to the service this week.
Tough virus restrictions will make it impossible for many to see family and friends over the festive season.
Initially it was feared the helpline must shut, but the team are now working from home.
Dame Esther said: “Our centre in Blackpool is very difficult to make Covid-safe but Dixons very generously gave us laptops so the helpline has stayed open every day and night. And our wonderful staff have given us extra hours to meet the demand, and we have also recruited more volunteers.”
The 80-year-old added: “I have just had a letter from Margaret who wrote to me about her weekly conference call with five Silver Line friends she has never met.
“She said, ‘They are my lifeline. During that hour’s blether with them it makes me once again become a human being.You see all is not lost’.”
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The charity, supported by the Daily Express Respect for the Elderly crusade, has become an emergency service for many callers desperate to hear a friendly voice.
For others, it helps keep loneliness at bay when it strikes in the dead of night.
Since its launch, the charity – which is part of Age UK – has taken four million calls.
The service costs £4million a year to run and is funded almost entirely by donations.
Call the Silver Line helpline on 0800 4 70 80 90.
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