Helpline for elderly launched by Esther Rantzen

HELPLINE LAUNCH: Silverline founder Esther Rantzen.

HELPLINE LAUNCH: Silverline founder Esther Rantzen.

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TODAY (Monday) sees the Isle of Man launch of ‘Silverline’ offering support and practical advice to the elderly.

The confidential telephone service, called Silverline, officially goes live in the island on Monday, providing access to a friendly listening ear for the lonely as well as a myriad advice and support network from both charitable and public sector organisations.

Driving force behind the scheme is television presenter, journalist and Childline founder Esther Rantzen who will be here for the launch.

‘I will be meeting the Chief Minister and others in government. The practical aim is to publicise the telephone number which is a Freephone number and it is open 24 hours.

‘It’s important people realise that if they are feeling miserable at 3am they won’t be waking anyone up if the ring us: we have staff on duty to take calls specifically if they need support.’

On her previous visit to the island in September, which was supported by SMP Partners, Ms Rantzen spoke about the almost taboo subject of loneliness among the elderly. She wrote a newspaper article detailing her own experience after the death of her television producer husband Desmond Wilcox. She was inundated with replies and motivated to take action.

There were many root causes to loneliness, she said, children who had ‘flown the nest’, death of a partner, retirement, to mention a few.

She said older people could sometimes be too proud to ask for support. Many were of a generation which would remain stoically silent, hence the dedicated telephone line.

As well as lending a supportive ear, the line will deal with practical advice and help on all matters by putting callers in touch with specialist organisations who can address problems and queries.

The slogan for the service is: ‘No question too big, no problem too small, no need to be alone.’

A poster campaign including information in doctors’ surgeries and chemist shops will publicise the new service.

The number to call is 0800 328 8888. To guarantee callers’ anonymity, calls are answered off-island.

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