Damart has been a regular supporter of The Silver Line for the past few years and recently donated a further £10K through its On Senior’s Side charity foundation.
We spoke to Dame Esther Rantzen DBE, President and Founder of The Silver Line about the Charity and the important work it does in supporting older, lonely people as well as the role of older people in society.
Dame Esther told us she has two reasons to be grateful to Damart. The first is for sending her some bright red personalised thermals in the 1970s which kept her warm when her job as a journalist with the BBC necessitated her being outside a lot of the time.
The second, is for the company’s latest donation of £10K to the Charity to help fund the invaluable work it does as the only UK-wide free, national, confidential helpline open every day and night, offering information and friendship to older people.
She said: “Damart is incredibly warm-hearted, for both keeping me warm for many years and this generous donation which shows just how much it cares about older people.
“As the UK continues to experience restrictions and uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic, we know that many older people will need to turn to The Silver Line for friendship and reassurance in the coming weeks and months. This donation will help The Silver Line to answer more calls to our Helpline so we can be there for thousands of older people when they need us the most.”
Dame Esther, a journalist who founded Childline in 1986, sites her own personal experience of loneliness as the catalyst for The Silver Line. “At the age of 71, I found myself living alone for the first time and I was sometimes a bit lonely,” she explained.
“I chose to speak about this and people said I was brave because there was a stigma around being lonely. I hope that is changing, but I think you should always talk about how you feel and The Silver Line enables people to do this.”
The Silver Line Helpline is free, confidential and open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
“It’s there for older people whenever they need it,” said Dame Esther. “If you have a pang of loneliness at 3am or on a Sunday afternoon, there will be someone there to talk to you. You can ring for a chat, to share a memory or have a laugh. Whatever people need, we’ll be there for them.”
During the pandemic, The Silver Line has seen a big increase in calls.
“We’ve seen a 31% increase in calls since the pandemic started. Some of those calls were from people who hadn’t called us before but were experiencing loneliness and others were from people scared about things associated with the pandemic, such as going into hospital alone,” Dame Esther explained.
Dame Esther is a great champion of older people
She said: “Older people continue to inspire us. Look at Sir Captain Tom Moore who was a great ambassador for older people, showing how we can be positive, brave, compassionate and bold. Similarly inspiring are the Queen and David Attenborough and I think it’s crucially important that we remember the value that older people bring to society.”
Life has changed for older people over the years, some of it for the better and some of it not so thinks Dame Esther.
“My grandmother had four daughters and we saw her every weekend. This was the case for many families, the older person was the centre of the family, but over the years we have scattered across the country and the globe which can mean older people not having family close to them.
“And now you’ll find, that instead of family-based living, we have such things as retirement villages and I’m not sure if this is a good thing,” said Dame Esther.
“With the closure of many high street shops, I wonder if it might be better to have apartments for older people here, at the heart of the community?
“But we must remember that there are also positive things about getting older these days. Life expectancy is high, we know how to treat people for things like heart conditions and keep everyone fitter and healthier. The Queen is sending out more and more birthday cards for centenarians and that has to be a good thing.”
Thank you, Dame Esther, it was a pleasure to talk to you
About The Silver Line
The Silver Line (0800 4 70 80 90) is the only UK-wide free, national, confidential helpline open every day and night, offering information and friendship to older people.
The cost of calls to the Helpline are paid for by the donations it receives.
68% of callers contact the helpline because they are lonely or isolated, 90% live alone, and 54% say they have no one else to speak to.
The Silver Line has joined forces with Age UK, becoming a subsidiary charity of Age UK.
There are thought to be around 1.2 million chronically lonely older people across the UK. That number is set to rise to 2 million by 2026.
More details on The Silver Line website: www.thesilverline.org.uk