Silver Week launched to combat ‘hidden epidemic of loneliness’ in line with the Queen’s 90th birthday

As the Queen celebrates her 90th birthday a London charity has launched ‘Silver Week’ to combat loneliness in the over-90s who have no cakes or parties to look forward to.

The Silver Line, a helpline for older people, is launching Silver Week aiming to transform the lives of hundreds of lonely and isolated older people this May 15-21.

The charity, founded by Dame Esther Rantzen in 2013, runs a helpline so older people who suffer from loneliness can call and talk to its volunteers, known as Silver Line Friends.

Silver Line’s CEO Sophie Andrews said: “It’s great that everyone is celebrating the Queen’s 90th but we know that many other people have no birthday parties, cakes, or even anyone to simply chat to.

“We are uncovering a hidden epidemic of loneliness among the oldest people in our society – the percentage of over-90s calling our helpline is double the proportion in the UK population.”

The charity has 3,000 trained volunteers to man the telephone lines, become pen pals or even have weekly meet ups with elderly people through their friendship scheme.

The 24-hour free helpline currently receives around 10,000 calls a week and has dealt with nearly 880,000 calls since its national launch.

“There’s a hidden epidemic of isolation and loneliness in older people,” said Silver Line’s head of communications Kevin Mochrie.

“Bereavement has a lot to do with it. These are people who have lived long interesting lives but suddenly imperceptibly find themselves on their own.

“Often the stigma surrounding loneliness means they don’t want to admit they are lonely and they feel like they are bothering their family members by contacting them regularly.”

Mr Mochrie said that their volunteers do not try to pass their callers on to other lines, they simply allow them to talk and express their thoughts.

Mr Mochrie added: “We had a call last year from a man who called up asking how to cook a turkey and during the conversation it came out that his wife of 45 years had just passed away and this was his very first Christmas alone.”

Loneliness and isolation among elderly people can cause to hugely negative impacts on their health and can lead to their greater susceptibility to illness through the depression of their immune system.

Silver Week is about raising awareness about the epidemic, encouraging more volunteers to get involved and gaining more donations from the public.

The Silver Line number is: 0800 470 80 90 and for those who want information on volunteering should visit

Image courtesy of Royal Navy Media Archive, with thanks

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