Helpline supporting lonely elderly people received record number of calls

A helpline supporting lonely and isolated older people reported a huge surge in demand after it received a record 48,000 calls last month.

The Silver Line received an extra week worth of calls in March compared to the previous year - an increase of 24%.

There was a particularly spike over the Easter bank holiday weekend with more calls coming in than on the peak days over the busy Christmas and New Year period.

There were more than 6,327 calls made to the number between Good Friday and Easter Monday - averaging more than one call a minute.

Many callers felt isolated during the snowy weather. Credit: PA

The cold weather at the beginning of March also contributed to the increase in calls to the 24-hour helpline.

The charity's chief executive Sophie Andrews said: "We received the equivalent to an extra week's worth of calls compared to last year and surpassing our previous monthly high of just over 47,000 calls in December 2017.

"The bank holiday weekend was particularly busy - especially Easter Sunday, when we received over 400 more calls compared to Christmas Day - due to a mix of factors.

"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."

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.

  • The Silver Line, established in 2013, is available 24-hours a day on 0800 4 70 80 90.