Project information

The Silver Line Helpline

The Silver Line is a free, confidential, 24-hour helpline offering information, friendship and advice for older people, available at any time day and night, every day of the year.
Since launching in Nov 2013, we have answered more than 500,000 calls, some simply to say "Goodnight" to someone.


Charity information: The Silver Line Helpline

The Silver Line Helpline logo
  • Need


    Many older people living in the UK go for days without seeing or talking to anyone. Their friends and family may have died or moved away, or perhaps they are caring for a husband or wife with dementia and feel emotionally isolated. Loneliness can be a shock that few of us anticipate or plan for. It is intensely painful, and be as damaging to our physical wellbeing as smoking or obesity.


    The Silver Line does not aim to duplicate or replicate existing services; it enhances their effectiveness, by providing a single point of contact, a simple place and number to turn to every hour of every day. It is such an obvious idea and seems astonishing that until The Silver Line, there was no free and confidential helpline for older people who are lonely, frightened or confused. Callers may also receive a regular weekly call from a carefully matched volunteer Silver Line Friend if they wish

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    We aim to answer one million calls a year and befriend 12000 isolated and lonely older people


    » Funding is critical; we are developing a diverse portfolio of products aimed at short, medium and long-term income sources.

    What success will look like

    All our services are tangible, measurable and we maintain detailed records pertaining to every demographic including geography, duration, prompt, frequency, age, time, circumstance

    Aim 2

    Recruiting/ training volunteer Silver Line Friends for weekly friendship calls and Silver Letters


    » We will recruit volunteers through our corporate and strategic partners and through our media activity.

    What success will look like

    We have both a variety of case studies and films detailing Silver Line Friend pairs, demonstrating impact, along with monthly statistics pertaining to recruitment and training.

    Aim 3

    In only our second year, we need to significantly raise awareness of the charity and services.


    » Extensive media work around our second birthday on 25 Nov using Dame Esther Rantzen, and a first national conference

    What success will look like

    We monitor all media activity, evaluating impact on increases in helpline call numbers, donations, and volunteer interest/recruitment in the immediate aftermath.

  • Impact


    Ultimately we are aiming for a significant change in attitude towards older people which sees them cherished and integrated into their locales, and also in their portrayal in the media. We will connect people to people through widespread growth in friendship calls and to their local community services. In parallel we hope to facilitate a reduction in the use of GP appointments and calls to emergency services as the only chance for a chat rather than their primary intended purpose.


    The demand for the service is growing rapidly and depends on securing sustainable funding to meet this. A Big Lottery grant and early Founding Partnerships have given a 2 year platform to leverage further funding sources. Investment in Fundraising personnel will secure further strategic, multi year partnerships and provide accessible opportunities for the wider populous.


    We communicate our activities through regular newsletters, on our website, and through a variety of media channels as they present. Our first national conference in November will present an independent evaluation on Silver Line services to date and their effect on callers after 6 months.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £211,015

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £211,015 Silver Line Friends Weekly befriending calls via Virtual Call Centre per year
  • Background


    Our older helpline callers and their Silver Line Friends are located throughout the UK, IOM and Channel Islands. Geography precludes noone from using either the helpline or from participation in weekly friendship calls. For the purpose of safeguarding both parties, all friendship calls are made via a virtual calling system so the pairing may be at literally either ends of the country. More important is that they have been carefully matched for interests and are available mutually agreed times.


    Whilst The Silver Line Helpline was set up for older people who are lonely, isolated or confused, the beneficiaries extend to numerous other people. We aim to connect callers to groups and services in their area where possible, in turn stimulating demand. Volunteer Silver Line Friends are from all walks of life and frequently tell us that they too thoroughly enjoy the calls. One recently told us, “I look forward to calling my friend every Wednesday as much, if not more, than she does"

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    There is no other dedicated UK Helpline available 24/7/365 for lonely or isolated older people. Extensive initial pilots in the North West, North East, Jersey and IOM were independently evaluated, and gaps in provision and opportunities to link with existing services were identified and implemented prior to a national launch in Nov 2013. Founder Esther Rantzen brings invaluable knowledge having established ChildLine nearly 30 years ago. 500,000 calls have been received in only 20 months.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Sophie Andrews Chief Executive

    With a background in social care, volunteering and as a former Samaritan Chair, Sophie has extensive experience of volunteer-led emotional support.

    Anthea Beeks Director Of Operations

    More than 40 years experience in all facets of social care and volunteering, Anthea has an in-depth understanding of the need spectrum of our callers.

I have no family at all. I have one nice lady who washes my hair. Now with the Silver Line I have two hands to hold.

Silver Line caller