Free Friendship Telephone Service for the Elderly Launched

A 24 hour telephone service, part-funded by the Big Lottery Fund, has been launched today by the television presenter Esther Rantzen aimed at helping older people across the UK cope better with loneliness.

The statistics about older people and loneliness are very frightening. More than half of all 75 year olds in the UK live alone and one in ten suffers “intense” loneliness but many are reluctant to ask for help fearing that they may be a burden to their families in doing so.

In a poll conducted to launch the new service today called ‘The Silver Line’ it was revealed that 9 out of 10 older people told researchers that “a chat on the ‘phone” is the most helpful solution when they feel lonely but 1 in 4 older people say that they “never” or “seldom” have someone to chat to.

The phone service is free and confidential and Chairwoman Esther Rantzan hopes the easy to remember number – 0800 4 70 80 90 – will be utilised by older people across the UK when they need friendship or advice.

Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb said “In our busy lives we too easily forget the thousands of older people who often go for days without seeing or speaking to anyone, or rely on the television for company. This service will help provide people with the companionship and support they deserve in their older years.”

During the pilot phase in parts of the north of England as well as Jersey and the Isle of Man the helpline was able to answer 7,000 calls from older people.

Silver Line – 0800 4 70 80 90

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