In 2011, our founder Dame Esther Rantzen DBE decided to share with the world that she was experiencing feelings of deep loneliness.
After finding herself living alone for the first time at aged 71, Esther would come home from a busy day to her empty flat and feel profoundly lonely.
She wrote about her experience in The Daily Mail and was inundated with responses from older people who felt Esther was telling their story, too.
In 2012, Esther received a letter from a lady who described her own experience of living alone as an older person.
The lady revealed that while she was a bubbly, optimistic person with family living nearby, she’d often go 3 days or more without speaking a word to anyone. She wrote of her fear of burdening others and her struggle with feelings of isolation and intense loneliness.
Tackling the taboo of loneliness
Esther was deeply struck by the author’s experience – why should someone have to endure such feelings simply because they’re older and perhaps living alone?
The revelation took root and Esther reached out to various charities and organisations to create something that might help: a telephone service that offered older people the opportunity to enjoy support, conversation, and all the wonderful benefits that come from talking to a friend.
In November 2013, The Silver Line Helpline opened its lines to older people across the UK. Since that first call, The Silver Line’s dedicated team of staff and volunteers have picked up the phone and spoken with millions of older people.