Silver Line Scotland in partnership with Age Scotland, launch a new 24 hour helpline offering information, advice and friendship to older people on 0800 4 70 80 90. Esther Rantzen, founder and chair of The Silver Line, spoke to Age Scotland about this land-mark new service.
“We know from the experience of ChildLine that it is sometimes difficult to talk about serious problems like loneliness or abuse,” says Esther, who helped found that service in the 1980s. “So with The Silver Line, we are saying to older people that you can ring us up about anything.”
For Esther it’s vitally important that the service is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. “We get very important calls in the early hours of the morning, on Sunday mornings, and on Christmas day. People can be sleepless, and with Sunday and Christmas dedicated to family they can feel particularly lonely on these days.”
Silver Line Scotland is not just a number people can call in a time of crisis. “We learned from our pilot of the service that some people really enjoy speaking to someone on a regular basis, and that a Silver Line friendship can transform their life,” says Esther. “They say that being able to talk to someone who is genuinely interested in them makes them feel valued and gives them confidence. So as a result of contacting The Silver Line, one woman went on to join a book club, and we also spurred a man to go out and buy a new guitar.”
The inspiration to found The Silver Line came from Esther’s personal experience. “Living alone for the first time at age of 71 I realised that, even though I had quite a good life, coming home to a dark flat with no-one to make tea for is pretty lonely.”
Esther feels that there are barriers that make it difficult for people who are lonely to ask for help. “Many older people are determined not to be a burden, and they will often say that they know there are people far worse off than they are,” she says. “There is definitely a stigma attached to loneliness; admitting to it can feel a bit like admitting that you are unlikeable.”
In Scotland The Silver Line is working in partnership with Age Scotland to deliver Silver Line Scotland. “I went up to meet Age Scotland Chief Executive Brian Sloan,” says Esther. “The idea for a partnership came from him, and it was such a brilliant one as Scotland’s laws and systems are slightly different and Age Scotland’s telephone advisers are experts in this.” Esther is “hugely enthusiastic” about the partnership. “I have the greatest respect for the work of Age Scotland’s dynamic team and am delighted to be working with it.”
Call Silver Line Scotland on 0800 4 70 80 90