The Silver Line

Dame Esther Rantzen and The Silver Line

Dame Esther Rantzen founded The Silver Line after writing an article sharing her personal experience of the loneliness she felt after losing her husband. She was astonished at the overwhelming response she received from older people who were experiencing the same effects of loneliness.

Dame Esther is a key spokesperson and trustee of the charity.


The Silver Line

The Silver Line operates the only national, free, confidential helpline for lonely and isolated older people open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

The helpline has received more than one million calls. Over two-thirds are made at nights and weekends, when no other helpline is available for older people who may be lonely, isolated or confused.

The Silver Line is a charity and relies entirely on donations to survive.


The Silver Line’s friendship services

Silver Line telephone Friends – a regular, weekly friendship telephone call between a volunteer and an older person

Silver Letters - where a volunteer and an older person exchange letters every fortnight. It’s ideal for people who are hearing impaired, and would like a Silver Line Friend, as well as those who prefer the written word.

Both our letter and telephone friendship services involve matching an older person with a volunteer Silver Line Friend.  We do this by understanding the older person’s likes, dislikes, hobbies etc, and finding a volunteer with common interests.

There is no cost to the older person, or to the volunteer, for any of our services, which are paid for from voluntary donations to The Silver Line.


Asda and The Silver Line

Sophie Andrews, Chief Executive of The Silver Line, said:

“Asda colleagues carry out such great work in the community both through The Asda Foundation and as in-store community champions.

“We’re hoping they will help us to spread the word to older people about our Silver Letters friendship scheme, which is being supported by the Asda Foundation, as well as helping to encourage people to support us through donations and volunteering.”

Case Studies

David and his Silver Letters friend

David is 72 and lives in St Helens. At the age of 39, he left his job in a turkey farm to begin travelling around the world in solo expeditions.

He said: “I always went alone and met some amazing people along the way, from all over the world. I started walking as a young child in the Yorkshire hills and I have done my adventures since on a shoestring.”

Although David made many friends during his adventures, he struggles with communicating with people in his local area.

He said: “It is very different when I am out and about in my area. People just aren’t as friendly and don’t want to stop and chat. Even though I went on my walking adventures alone I was not lonely. It was when I came home that I feel lonely.”

David is a keen letter writer and enjoys receiving correspondence. So, after seeing an article about The Silver Line, he applied to join the Silver Letters service.

David now writes to volunteer, Hannah, and they share their stories of their travels.

He said: “Hannah is an athlete and does a lot of running. I tell her about where I have been walking and she replies with stories of where she has been running. I like being in touch with her as we have similar interests and it is nice to get the letters.”

Joan and her Silver Line Telephone Friend

Former secretary Joan is 76 and lives by herself in in the house she shared with Alan, her husband of almost 50 years. Sadly, Alan, was diagnosed with cancer and after a period of being nursed at home, passed away.

“I suffered three bereavements in very close succession,” said Joan. “It was such a shock and very hard to deal with. I have a wonderful daughter and two grandchildren, but I do miss my husband.“

Initially Joan went out to visit friends and family but, she says, a fall changed everything.

“I just can’t bring myself to leave the house now. I still feel like my leg isn’t quite right and suffer pain.  I do have a fantastic daughter and son-in-law who visit, but it’s hard when you’re in by yourself a lot.”

Joan was told about The Silver Line during a visit to her GP.

“The helpline have been fantastic.” she said. “They are there for me during the weekends when time seems to drag on and on. The Silver Line has given me a lifeline.”

Joan has been matched to a Silver Line Telephone Friend, called Lynn, and they speak every Sunday.

“We get on very well we have become very good friends, she said. “Lynn has lots of things going on. But she surprised me the other day as she said she had been feeling lonely herself and called the helpline for a chat. She obviously felt like she needed somebody else to talk to, too.”