No Holiday from Loneliness
WITH schools now broken up for summer
the 'Great British Getaway' has begun in earnest the 1st Friday alone saw
a record 2.4 million travellers take to the skies and another 2.5 million cars
hitting the roads on the busiest day of annual mass exodus.
But as holidaymakers desert Town in their droves, The Silver Line, a leading UK
charity which supports older people feel lonely or are isolated, predicts a
record demand for its services during the summer from those who are left home
Chief Executive of The Silver Line, Sophie Andrews says:- "We have already
seen a 7% rise in the number of callers to our 24/7 Helpline in the past week,
and they tell us that they dread the seemingly endless weeks ahead with their
families and friends away on holiday."
The Silver Line Helpline, the UK's only free, national, confidential helpline
open 365 days a year, typically receives between 3000 and 4000 extra
calls per month over the July and August (around 10% more than the monthly
average). 7 August 2016 saw a new yearly high in the number of calls to
the Helpline, over 1,600 in a 24 hour period (which included its 1 millionth
call since launch) out stripping the previous peak on New Year's Day 2016.
Alan Walsh, Head of The Silver Line Helpline says:- "Even if they do have
friends and family nearby, for many older people the 'summer ghost Town'
phenomenon means the usual familiar faces or people they are in daily contact
with suddenly aren't around; their GP gets in a locum, their postman and local
shopkeeper are replaced by holiday cover, while their favourite radio DJ or TV
presenter are substituted with stand ins; and this can compound their sense of
loneliness and isolation."
The Blackpool-based Helpline offers callers information, friendship and advice,
or just someone to chat to around the clock (and crucially overnight and
weekends and when other services are shut). It also acts as a single national
point of contact to signpost callers to local organisations that can offer
additional support and/ or to social activities in their area "all of
which can help alleviate feelings of; as our summer callers often report; 'being
stranded with nowhere to go and nothing to do'."
In addition to the Helpline for which it is best known, the charity also offers
a range of personalised, 1 to 1 friendship services; including a regular
weekly telephone call (currently around 4000 calls are made weekly) and/ or a
pen pal style exchange of letters. These are delivered through an army of around
3000 volunteer Silver Line Friends, who are carefully matched to an older person
based on mutual interests, and are free to both parties.
"At this time of year in particular, we often get calls from family and friends
of older people; who are going away or extra-busy at work with colleagues on
holiday; who want to ensure that there is a support network in place when they
can't be there to check in on them. Our friendship services can provide this
back up and give those concerned 'nearest and dearest' peace of mind that a
Silver Line Friend can step into the fold when they aren't around…. or even when
they are!" says Sophie.
Dame Esther Rantzen, Founder and President of The Silver Line adds:- "We
should all look out for older people in our community who have left behind
during the summer escape; and who, as members of the proud 'stiff upper lip'
generation, are often hesitant to reach out. In the 1st instance we can stop and
have a chat with them on the street, maybe offer to pop in for a cup of tea, or
to help them with their shopping. And where appropriate refer them to services
such as The Silver Line who can support them around the clock. While we at The
Silver Line cannot cure the summertime blues, we also hear from our callers that
just having the reassurance of knowing they have someone to chat to at any time
of day or night can go a long way. So whether you are home or away for the
summer, remember to give any older people who might need it The Silver Line
Helpline number:- 0800 4 70 80 90."