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Our people

Age UK's Silver Line Helpline team is made up of dedicated staff members and volunteers based across the UK.

Our team members work hard to give older people the chance to pick up the phone and enjoy a chat, get some support, and feel all the wonderful benefits that come from talking to a friend. Without their commitment and passion, we wouldn't be able to offer support and friendship to millions of older people.

Dame Esther Rantzen DBE

A photo portrait of Dame Esther Rantzen

Dame Esther Rantzen DBE is the founder of The Silver Line. She founded the charity in 2013 to support and uplift older people experiencing loneliness and isolation across the UK.

Esther was inspired to establish The Silver Line after opening up about her own struggles with loneliness, and realising she was not alone.

“I first admitted I was lonely in 2011 when I found myself living alone for the first time aged 71, and hating it.

I knew I was lucky in many ways. I was busy, I was healthy, but all the same at the end of the day I would return to my empty flat. It was dark, it was cold, and there was nobody to have a cup of tea with, or plan an evening of television together.

In August 2011, I wrote an article about my experience and received an incredible response. Many older people wrote to me and shared their own stories of living with loneliness, especially after the loss of a beloved spouse. Some wrote about going days without speaking to anyone or feeling like a burden on their family.

I knew there had to be a way to help end this stigma of loneliness. During a panel organised by Campaign to End Loneliness, I had a lightbulb moment: we needed a helpline just for older people.

After a year of research, fundraising and planning, The Silver Line launched and we received our first call in November 2013. It’s been an incredible journey since, including a recent merge with Age UK, our charity partner.

We can’t claim to change people’s lives completely, but we do know (because our callers tell us) that making that phone call can be a crucial first step. It can lift people’s spirits, make them feel valued, and reassure them that life really is worth living.”

Alongside founding The Silver Line, Dame Esther Rantzen is a celebrated presenter, campaigner, journalist, and speaker.  

She has received an OBE for services to broadcasting, a CBE for services to children, and a DBE for her work with Childline and The Silver Line Helpline.

For her work in broadcasting, Esther has been awarded seven honorary doctorates and is a Patron of 19 charities.

Read a letter from Dame Esther

The Silver Line ambassadors and patron

The Silver Line relies on its generous donors and supporters in order to continue providing friendship, guidance and connection to older people who need it.

We also rely on the invaluable contributions of our ambassadors and patron, who help to champion the people The Silver Line supports and the work we carry out.

Her Majesty The Queen

The Silver Line Royal Patron who helped support callers during the 2020 lockdown.

Dame Judi Dench

The Silver Line Ambassador

Dame Joan Collins DBE

The Silver Line Ambassador

Gloria Hunniford OBE

The Silver Line Ambassador

The Silver Line Trustees

As an independent charity between 2014 and 2022, we'd like to thank all the individuals who generously gave their time and volunteered as trustees. Details of The Silver Line Helpline's past trustees can be found in the charity's annual reports.

The Silver Line Helpline's activities are now delivered by Age UK, please visit the Age UK website for information about Age UK's trustees.

More from Age UK's Silver Line

Age UK’s Silver Line Helpline is the UK's only free, confidential, 24-hour helpline providing friendship for older people.


Last updated: Jun 05 2024

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