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Weekly Edition - Publication date:- 2017-05-08

-en Southport & Mersey Reporter

Local News Report  - Mobile Page


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 alone.

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."


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Southport Reporter (R) Bourder




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