Last weekend say hundreds of people win a prize from the People’s Postcode Lottery. In addition, many charities also benefit. One of those was The Silver Line, a helpline for older people who are suffering from loneliness or isolation. Here is more about them.
The Silver Line, the charity dedicated to supporting lonely older people with its around-the-clock helpline and friendship services, has announced that August has been its busiest month since launching in November 2013.
The charity also announced that The Silver Line Helpline – the only free, national, confidential 24/7 helpline offering information, friendship and advice to older people – has now taken a milestone 1.5 million calls in just under 4 years, as demand for the service continues to rise.
August 2017 broke a new record with over 45,000 calls received – at a rate of more than one per minute – up by around 1200 on the same month last year. Of these, 12,368 were made during the weekends, averaging 1546 calls per day for every Saturday and Sunday in August. Saturday August 5th – one week into the ‘official’ summer holiday getaway – became the busiest day of the year so far with 1634 calls taken in 24 hours.
Alan Walsh, Head of the Helpline said “While we often associate older peoples’ loneliness with the dark, cold winter months, and Christmas in particular, we hear from callers that summer can be an equally challenging time.
“The Helpline typically receives around 10% more calls during July and August from people whose family and friends have gone away – along with the usual faces that they see day in, day out such as the postman, or shopkeeper or their GP, turning their local community into a ghost town.
“As well as being left ‘home alone’, for a lot of our callers summer can also be a poignant reminder of happier times spent holidaying with their nearest and dearest, which compounds their feelings of loneliness and isolation.”
The average number of callers per day during the month was 1452[ rising to 1500 for last week of August – outstripping the surge in daily call volumes seen over Christmas week 2016 which left the Helpline unable to answer around a third of the 15,000 calls made between 24th December and 2nd January.
And with demand for the service – and so, its operating costs – continuing to grow, The Silver Line’s leaders are urgently appealing for public donations ahead of Christmas to ensure the Helpline can keep running. In particular, the charity – which relies entirely on voluntary funding – needs to raise £1.42 million to pay for the unique and vital night-time and weekends service, which alone accounts for over two-thirds of all calls (when other services are closed).
Chief Executive of The Silver Line, Sophie Andrews said:“While August has been the busiest month of the year for us – and indeed since launch – we know that it will only get busier as we approach Christmas.
“Last Christmas the Helpline was overwhelmed by the number of callers – which exceeded our most generous projections – and unfortunately left over 5,000 callers entirely on their own when they desperately needed someone to talk to, at a time most of the nation spends enjoying the company of friends and family.
“All the signs are that Christmas 2017 promises to be yet another record for us – sadly – but in order to cope with the anticipated spike in call volumes, and avoid a repeat of last year’s scenario, we urgently need further funding.”
In addition to the Helpline, during August the charity’s army of volunteer Silver Line Telephone friends made around 4000 outbound calls per week to lonely older people signed up to The Silver Line’s telephone friendship scheme.
Dame Esther Rantzen, Founder and President of The Silver Line added “I knew there was a need for the Helpline but to answer over one and a half million calls in such a short space of time is desperately sad.
“Sadder still is that the number of calls to the Helpline continues to rise unabated as we continue to uncover the epidemic of loneliness among our older people.
“Over ninety percent of our callers live alone, with over half of them saying they have no one else to speak to apart from The Silver Line – and that nights can be the worst times of all when they really need someone to talk to and confide in.
“But as demand for our services grows we urgently need donations to help us support those who need us most.”
Just £5 will pay for a call with an older person who may not have spoken to another human being all week, £50 will pay to recruit and train a volunteer to become a Silver Line Friend while £250 will pay for one caller to be supported by the Helpline and their own Silver Line Friend for one year.
To make a donation to The Silver Line, go to the website www.thesilverline.org.uk/donate
Photo – Silver Line volunteer Patty Stringer (far right) celebrates along with other Charities