The Silver Line helpline for older people in the UK now takes over 10,000 calls a week. It offers a free, confidential, 24-hour, 365-day-a-year helpline. The helpline number is 0800 4 70 80 90, all calls are free. It offers information and friendship and signposting to local organisations for support or social activities. The service is increasing its focus on the mental health issues and loneliness that can affect older people. Other services include a weekly befriending phone call or fortnightly penpal letters by trained volunteers.
The service was created in 2013 by Esther Rantzen (who also created Childline). Many older people don’t want to call the Samaritans because they don’t want to block the line, so the Silver Line fills that gap. They have no strict age limits but most people they speak to are over 55. Callers are free to express their feelings, describe their lives honestly, and can trust the Silver Line to respect their privacy.
Since its launch, the Helpline has received over 1.4 million calls. More than two-thirds of calls are made overnight or at weekends when no other helpline is available for older people who may be lonely, isolated, or confused. 53% of callers say they have literally no one else to speak to.
The are more than 3,000 volunteer friends who make regular friendship calls to older people. The service has also launched Silver Circle group calls for people with shared interests and Silver Letters for people who prefer letters or who are hearing impaired.
Companion care provides emotional support for people who are generally healthy and who want to remain independent at home. It can also include a range of support that help make a person’s life more manageable. These services can include light housekeeping, assistance with activities of daily living, medication reminders, and much more. The biggest benefit that companionship brings is that it improves the quality of life. The relationship built between Care Professionals and clients is symbiotic, it enables the client to thrive and brings huge job satisfaction to the carer. Having friends and companions enables people to talk about challenges, express grief, and to find resources to solve problems. Clients look forward to their carer visiting, doing things with them, and being able to rely upon them. Companionship helps to remove worry and burden, as well as stresses of not coping with day-to-day life.