On 11 October, 2021 Women of the Year hosted their 67th annual event to recognise and celebrate 400 women from across the UK who have achieved remarkable things this year. The event champions women from all walks of life and each guest is nominated by a member of the Women of the Year Council in recognition of her personal achievement or inspiration and attends the gathering as a ‘Woman of the Year’.
One of those honoured was long-time activist and founder of Childline and The Silver Line, Dame Esther Rantzen DBE, who received a lifetime achievement award.
In 2013 Dame Esther set up The Silver Line, a service to help older people in the UK battling loneliness. At the start of the pandemic there was a 31% increase in calls to The Silver Line Helpline – many were experiencing isolation and loneliness but other calls were from people scared about things associated with the pandemic such as going into hospital alone. There are thought to be around 1.4 million older people in the UK who are often lonely – since its launch the service has received over 3.3 million calls – and The Silver Line now handles thousands of calls every week from older people across the UK.
It relies entirely on voluntary donations and in 2019 The Silver Line became a subsidiary of Age UK, joining forces in the fight against loneliness. The Helpline is also able to connect callers with volunteers who make regular weekly friendship calls to older people as part of the Telephone Friendship Service and can empower older people with support and advocacy through Silver Connects.