Aiming to combat loneliness in the over 65s, The Silver Line is a free phone service that provides advice, information and perhaps most importantly, friendship for the elderly.
Trained volunteers will answer calls 24 hours a day and will be encouraged to befriend older people and make regular calls to them over a period of months.
Chairwoman, Esther Rantzen hopes the phone number (0800 4 70 80 90) will be remembered by older people when they need companionship. The phone line is being funded by a £5m grant from the Big Lottery Fund.
The Department of Health has said loneliness is a major cause of physical and mental damage, and with over half of the UK’s over-75s living alone, this is a problem that needs addressing.
“We will signpost them to the services in their community, and by showing them we value them and care about them we will restore their confidence and feelings of self-worth. It is tragic that older people are so undervalued and isolated that they believe life is not worth living and that they are no longer part of the human race.”
Last year the Campaign to End Loneliness estimated that over a million people living in the UK feel trapped in their homes, with five million older people considering their television as their main source of companionship.
This year it has been estimated by Age UK that 450,000 older people will face Christmas alone.
Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb has spoken out saying our busy lives lead us to forget the thousands of older people who go for days without seeing or speaking to anyone. Lamb said this new phone line will help to provide people with the companionship and support they deserve in their older years.