Yorkshire named a 'loneliness hotspot' for older people
Yorkshire has been named a 'loneliness hotspot' for older people, with over 12,000 calls being made to The Silver Line helpline in North Yorkshire alone.
The charity looked at data from over one million calls that the helpline received since its national launch in November 2013, to pinpoint the areas where calls come from.
The Yorkshire region is second only to Greater London with a total of 69,455 calls from lonely older people in the four counties. Two-thirds of calls are made at evenings and weekends - over 700,000 of the calls received by the helpline so far.
The Silver Line is the only free, national and confidential helpline that is open every day and night to offer information, friendship and advice to older people.
The Silver Line is expecting an increase in calls as Christmas and New Year approaches.
A break down of calls from Yorkshire:
West Yorkshire - 29,891
South Yorkshire - 19,869
North Yorkshire - 12,367
East Riding - 7,328
The Silver Line’s founder, Dame Esther Rantzen said: “Every day we hear from lonely older people who have led interesting lives but are now isolated, utterly alone, and literally have no one to speak to for days on end.
“Calls come from virtually everywhere in the UK – places as different as the rural Yorkshire Dales and inner city Leeds – but alike in that older people are experiencing the same loneliness.
“Our figures show there are lonely older people living in every street, in every community, and we know that for many night-times are the worst for them.
“That’s why it is vital we are there when no other helpline is available for older people who may be lonely, isolated or confused.”
The Silver Line relies on donations to keep the helpline going and pay for friendship calls between volunteer Silver Line Friends and older people. The growing demand from lonely older people means The Silver Line now needs to raise £1.65 million to pay for the night-time and weekends service. It fears that without more public donations the vital service may have to close.
Chief Executive Sophie Andrews said: “More and more people are calling us every month – and with the festive period fast approaching we expect the number of callers to rise even higher.
“Some callers want a friendly chat because they are lonely, others are looking for information, with the majority of older people turning to us at night time and weekends.
“For many older people, the early hours are often when they feel the challenge of being all alone.
“Over a quarter of callers, 28%, now also say they have been referred to us by other helplines that don’t operate at night and weekends.”