Lonely helpline receives a call every minute

A helpline supporting lonely and isolated older people received one call every minute in March, making it the busiest month since its launch in November 2013.

Silver Line took a record 48,000 calls in March, a 24 per cent increase on the same month last year, with the cold weather and Easter weekend partly to blame.

The number of incoming calls has continued to rise in April, with 80 per cent of callers phoning for the first time.

Sophie Andrews, Silver Line’s chief executive, said: “We know that for our callers, bank holidays throughout the year seem interminably long and lonely – they often describe them as ‘a month of Sundays’; and when combined with holiday occasions traditionally focused on celebrating with loved ones, it can be even more challenging for them.

“We also frequently heard from those calling between Good Friday and Easter Monday that their family and friends had gone away for the long weekend, leaving them home alone.

“More generally however, these figures underline what we hear from older people phoning us every day: that loneliness isn’t just for Christmas – it is their reality all year round.”

The Silver Line helpline is the only free, national, confidential helpline open every day and night, offering information, friendship and advice to older people over the age of 55.

Since its launch, the helpline has received more than 1.6 million calls to date – currently averaging 10,000 per week. Two thirds of calls are received overnight and on the weekend.

According to the charity, the top three ‘loneliest places’ for older people based on calls to the helpline from across 45 regions are: Lancashire, Essex and the West Midlands.

Founder and president of the Silver Line, Dame Esther Rantzen said: “80% of our callers in March were reaching out to us for the first time, so I am delighted that more and more older people now know about The Silver Line, that we are free, confidential, and that they can ring us any time of day or night, even when all the other services shut down, for instance on Easter Sunday.

“I am, of course, very sad that so many thousands are so isolated and alone that they have nobody else to speak to except us, and no-one to share with them their memories of happier Easters.”

For more information visit: www.thesilverline.org.uk

The Silver Line number is: 0800 4 70 80 90