Tackling loneliness in Cumbernauld and Kilsyth

Written by Scott Campbell. Scott Campbell
Published at 01:57 on 17 May 2014.
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Picture: copyright of Silver Line Scotland.

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CUMBERNAULD and Kilsyth’s Nationalist member of Holyrood is encouraging Cumbernauld and Kilsyth’s silver haired folk to take advantage a free helpline aimed specifically at tackling isolation.

Jamie Hepburn, Cumbernauld and Kilsyth’s SNP has hailed the “excellent service” provided by Silver Line Scotland - a confidential, 24 hour, free-phone helpline for older people across Scotland.

Launched on November 25th last year, the organisation aims to assist older people in communities across Scotland tackle feelings of isolation and loneliness through offering friendship and practical advice, as well as protection from abuse and neglect. 

According to a survey of more than 1,000 people over the age of 55, conducted by ComRes, “a chat on the phone” is perceived to be the best way to combat loneliness, with 9 out of 10 older people saying they would find it helpful (87%). And, yet; in the survey, 1 in 4 older people say they never or seldom have a chat on the phone (25%). 

Silver Line Scotland claim that some 2.5 million older people (15% of the older population) often feel lonely; a feeling which can lead to serious mental or physical health problems, with Department of Health research concluding that loneliness can be as dangerous – it not more dangerous – than smoking 15 cigarettes per day.

Commenting the area’s MSP said: “From what I’ve learned about Silver Line Scotland it seems like a great service that older people throughout Cumbernauld and Kilsyth could benefit greatly from.”

Mr Hepburn was impressed by the service's accessibility.

The Nationalist MSP said he was impressed to learn that the service could be easily accessed – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year- through just one free-phone telephone number -  0800 4 70 80 90. 

“I’m aware that some of the main challenges facing older people in Cumbernauld and Kilsyth are feelings of isolation and loneliness, and I would strongly encourage anyone who thinks they may benefit to call Silver Line Scotland for free on 0800 4 70 80 90,” Mr Hepburn added.

Mr Hepburn is encouraging locals to use the service.

“Silver Line Scotland have stated that they aim to help older people in our local community combat feelings of isolation by offering the simple opportunity to have a blether with a friendly person, or where appropriate more specific advice or establishing links with some of the many organisations already doing great work for and with older people across Cumbernauld and Kilsyth.”

When the Silver Line project was initially piloted, last year, the organisation managed to answer some 7,000 calls – the responses of some callers were “tragic” to hear, Esther Rantzen, Chair and Founder of The Silver Line said.

One caller telephoned the project and said: “When I put the telephone down, I feel I belong to the human race”. Another caller said: “It’s so good to talk to someone who actually seems to be interested in what I think.” A male caller told the call handler: “It was the choice between ringing The Silver Line and jumping in the canal.” 

Esther Rantzen, Chair and Founder of The Silver Line said: “It is tragic that older people are so undervalued and isolated that they believe life is not worth living and that they are no longer part of the human race. The new Silver Line with its free 24 hour number 0800 4 70 80 90 will be the single memorable number we hope all older people will turn to when they need information, friendship or protection. We will signpost them to the services in their community and by showing them we value them and care about them, we will restore their confidence and feelings of self-worth”.

Silver Line’s national launch has been made possible by a grant from the Big Lottery Fund of £5million over two years. The project was then officially launched on Monday 25 November 2013.

Commenting at the time, Peter Ainsworth, Chair of the Big Lottery Fund said: “The loneliness and isolation of older people is one of the last big taboos – from individuals talking about how it affects them to society in general admitting that it is very common.”

He added: “ChildLine continues to transform the lives of so many children and has done so for the past 27 years. I believe that The Silver Line will make the same significant difference for today’s older people and future generations by promoting dignity and helping to prevent the neglect of vulnerable older people.”
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