Silver Line helpline
The Silver Line is a charity which provides a telephone helpline for lonely older people as well as friendship services. It was launched in November 2013 by the television personality Esther Rantzen and has just achieved one million calls. However more volunteers are needed because there is a waiting list of over 1000 older people needing to be matched with a suitable telephone friend.
I have been a Silver Line telephone befriender for about a year and a half and find it an enjoyable and rewarding role. Before I started the role I was given training by Silver Line regarding confidentiality, how to conduct the friendship calls and what to talk about. The calls are all handled securely via Silver Line. No one makes direct contact with their Silver Line friend or discloses identifiable information such as full name or contact details. This is to safeguard both the volunteers and the older person.
Once training was complete I was matched with a person with similar interests to me. I now log onto the internet every Friday at 5.00 and make a call through the Silver Line virtual call centre website using my landline. It doesn’t cost me anything other than 30 minutes of my time each week. When I go on holiday I arrange to phone my friend at a different time for just one week or we miss a week. Gradually over the last year and a half I have encouraged my friend to try social activities in his community and it has been really rewarding to see him grow in confidence and make friends. His biggest achievement was going on a short holiday which he hadn’t done since his wife died 12 years ago.
If you are a busy person like me and you enjoy chatting to people you might find that you can spare just 30 minutes a week to help; or if you prefer you can now befriend people by letter. There are also other volunteering opportunities such as advertising Silver Line in your local community or at work, delivering leaflets and fundraising.
If you are interested in volunteering, take a look at the Silver Line website www.thesilverline.org.uk or phone Silver Line head office on 020 7224 2020 (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm)
Heanor Ward, Ilkeston hospital