Esther Rantzen has launched the Silver Line Helpline for older people, 27 years after she launched the children’s helpline Childline on That’s Life.
Childline, which allowed children to speak to trained advisors for free and in confidence received thousands of calls in its first year and continued to expand until it became part of the NSPCC in 2006.
The Silver Line was created by Ms Rantzen with the aim of linking lonely older people to services in their local area.
It will provide a “befriending service” and will also help those who may be suffering from abuse or neglect.
Kate Jopling, director for the Campaign to End Loneliness, said: “Loneliness is a shockingly common problem, but admitting we are lonely can be incredibly hard to do because of the stigma that surrounds it.
“When people find the courage ask for help, it is vital that someone is there to listen - which is why a 24-hour phone line, where people are always on hand to take your call, is such an important addition to the safety net available to older people.
She added: “Many of us feel isolated and lonely - but there are people and organisations out there ready and willing to help. We hope that Esther Rantzen’s new project The Silver Line will provide a really prominent new gateway to this support.”
David McCullough, chief executive of the Royal Voluntary Service, added: “Older people across the country face an array of challenges, from isolation and loneliness to struggling with health and financial issues.
“A dedicated national phone line, to offer support and guidance to older people throughout the UK is a vital service, especially in an age where information and services are frequently being moved online.”
He added: “It is essential that older people have easy access to information and services that can help improve their lives, whether that is a simple measure like having a befriender come and visit every week or help facing larger issues such as moving into a care home or losing a partner.
“Older people who call The Silver Line will be put in touch with vital local services, such as those provided by Royal Voluntary Service which provide companionship and support, helping older people to live life rather than simply exist.”
Esther Rantzen will appear on Monday’s edition of The One Show and team up with presenters Matt Baker and Alex to present an updated version of the long-running magazine show That’s Life .
That’s Life ran on BBC One for more than 20 years and was famous for campaigning on serious issues as well as running light-hearted sections featuring funny poems, performing pets and strangely-shaped vegetables.
- The Silver Line phone number is 0800 470 8090.
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