Posted on 16/05/2016

Be a Telephone Friend for The Silver Line and change an older person’s life

Be a Telephone Friend for The Silver Line and change an older person’s life

If someone asks you what your plans are this week, what will you say?

“Same old, same old”, “Back to the daily grind”, “Business as usual”.

But what if you could say “Transforming someone else’s life”? This is the answer Diana Davies can be proud to give on a weekly basis, volunteering as a Telephone Friend for The Silver Line.

Conversations to combat loneliness

Having launched just before Christmas 2013, The Silver Line could still be looked at as the new charity on the block – yet it has seen incredible growth due to its fundamental purpose: to provide a free, confidential helpline 24/7 to older people who are lonely and need someone to talk to.

Its founder, Dame Esther Rantzen DBE (who founded the children’s helpline ChildLine in 1986), lost her husband in 2000. Although she had family and friends around for support, she didn’t want to share her feelings of bereavement, or the devastating loneliness she felt walking into her own home. After writing an article about this in 2011, Dame Esther was overwhelmed by the responses from older people who had shared her experience. Through this, the idea for The Silver Line was born.

Esther Rantzen Silverline

Silver Week 2016

You can call The Silver Line’s 24/7 helpline whenever you need to and operators now answer roughly 10,000 calls per week, with the charity due to receive its 1 millionth call later this year. With this in mind, The Silver Line are now asking for volunteers to join their additional Telephone Friend service to further assist callers from the helpline. Telephone Friends, like Diana, call the same, carefully-matched Friend for half an hour on a weekly basis, building a safe, anonymous relationship. Diana told us:

“Hearing my Friend laugh and listening to her thanking me for my call is my favourite thing about volunteering for The Silver Line. It gives me an enormous amount of pleasure and is an established part of my life which it enriches. It’s a small amount of time for me that makes a huge difference to her”.

Diana cropped for blog

Silver Week 2016 will run from 15th -21st May and act as a catalyst to help transform the lives of hundreds of lonely and isolated older people who may not have spoken to another human being for days or even weeks. Head of Communications, Kevin Mochrie, explains how the importance of Telephone Friends cannot be understated:

“Volunteers are vital to our friendship services. We get calls from people all over the country and therefore need volunteers from all areas to accommodate our callers’ needs.

Many people tell us they haven’t spoken to another person in days, or even weeks. In a poll we did, 9-out-of-10 older people said ‘a chat on the phone’ is the most helpful solution when they feel lonely, yet 1-in-4 older people said they rarely have anyone to chat to. That’s why becoming a Telephone Friend is so valuable and can really transform lives.”

Seven steps to Silver Line success!


Fill in the application form here

Top advice for your first call

It’s worth noting, that Telephone Friends must have access to the internet and a UK landline as you’ll be expected to ring your Friend via a computer (to ensure your phone number is kept confidential). Having been a Telephone Friend for the past year, Diana has learnt a lot from her experiences and has some excellent tips for someone making their first call:

“Always remember, you WANT to call your Friend and they are waiting to hear from you – so relax and don’t try to cover too much. Spend your time listening and make notes so you remember little details like family names, hobbies etc - it’s easy to forget over the week and nothing is more annoying for you or them than having to repeat questions.

Don’t worry about what you’re going to say, you wouldn’t have got this far if you couldn’t hold a conversation for half an hour. Finally, enjoy your time speaking with your Friend and they will enjoy your calls – which is a great result all round.”

Don’t forget

  • The Silver Line helpline is available to all older people 24/7 on 0800 4 70 80 90
  • Most people call just for a chat, but you can also ask The Silver Line operators for useful contact numbers e.g. who to call if your heating has been turned off etc
  • To sign up and start receiving calls from a Telephone Friend, simply call the 24/7 helpline and ask to join.
  • As a Telephone Friend, you’ll call your carefully matched Friend once a week for 30 minutes.
  • The Silver Line needs Telephone Friends across the UK so you can apply no matter where you live!

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