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Volunteer to become a Silver Line Friend

Andy Stevens / 14 December 2016 ( 13 June 2019 )

Spare just half an hour a week to befriend a lonely older person over the phone in 2017 with The Silver Line.

An older woman chats on the phone to her Silver Line friend

We all know life can be hectic, with family commitments, work and socialising, but we're asking if you could spare half an hour a week to make friends over the phone with lonely older person and bring a smile back to their face?

Saga has teamed up with The Silver Line

Saga is proud to have teamed up with The Silver Line, the inspirational telephone befriending service for older people.

The Silver Line first opened its phone lines at Christmas 2013. It came about thanks to an article written by founder Dame Esther Rantzen's personal experience of loneliness after losing her husband Desmond, and the huge response this prompted among older people sharing similar experiences.

So emerged The Silver Line, which ever since has been offering lasting and hugely beneficial friendships at the end of the phone to help older people combat loneliness, social exclusion, isolation, abuse and neglect, while giving friendly guidance and help if needed about useful projects and services.

Since 2013, The Silver Line has received more than 1.4 million phone calls from older people. Today, this figure has grown to around 10,000 calls a week.

The Silver Line has helped thousands of previously isolated older people benefit from life-enhancing new friendships over the phone.

It's easy to help a lonely older person

To immeasurably improve the lives of isolated older people boils down to a really simple act: Silver Line volunteers – and there are currently around 3,000 of them – have a chat on the phone every week for just half an hour with their own Silver Line Friend.

Whatever your age, if you have a bit of spare time, The Silver Line needn't take up a lot of your day should you choose to become a volunteer friend on the phone.

Just set aside a mere half an hour a week – which isn't much at all in the scheme of things – and in so doing make a hugely positive difference to the lives of older people.

Volunteering for The Silver Line brings its own reward – lifting the spirits of lonely older people who may go days, or even weeks, on end without hearing a friendly voice. You'll be someone they can chat with, have a catch-up and build new friendships over the phone.

Instead of checking social media, surfing the web or watching that TV programme you're really not that fussed about, just spare 30 minutes each week in the comfort of your own home as a Silver Line Befriender and you could spread a lot of happiness to older people.

The Silver Line: A lifeline for the lonely

The loneliest times of year

Summer holidays

When holidaymakers desert town in their droves in the summer, The Silver Line knows demand will increase for its services from those left home alone. The charity’s Chief Executive Sophie Andrews says: “We saw a 7% rise in the number of callers to our 24/7 Helpline in the first week of the school holidays. They tell us that they dread the seemingly endless weeks ahead with their families and friends away.”

The Helpline typically receives 3,000-4,000 extra calls per month in July and August, around 10% more than the monthly average. On 7 August 2016, the Helpline received its highest number of calls – over 1,600 in a 24-hour period – outstripping the previous peak on New Year’s Day 2016.

Christmas and New Year

As our touching and heart-rending video shows, Christmas and New Year can be exciting, communal times for families and friends, with everyone rushing around, exchanging gifts, socialising, over-indulging and generally getting together to have a good time.

At least that's the case for some. But certainly not for all. For a million isolated older people in the UK, the Christmas and New Year hype and hysteria can be a source of dread and sadness; the sense that everyone else is together for a lovely time only serving to heighten that feeling of loneliness.

But once the festive hubbub has died down, you can do something to change this. By setting aside a mere half hour of your time each week in the New Year for a chat on the phone, you can bring a little joy into the life of an older person through The Silver Line.

Advice for volunteer befrienders

How you can help

Simply get in touch:

To volunteer, email, or for general enquiries email

Go online at

Call the Silver Line Helpline on 0800 4 70 80 90

Go on Facebook

Saga readers say...

'About eighteen months ago you included in your magazine an article about your partnership with the Silver Line. I was very interested in this as I had been thinking about doing some volunteering but had not felt that anything quite suited what I wanted to do. This seemed to fit with my time and ability so I contacted the organisation to apply to become a volunteer telephone friend.

I was most impressed with the thorough research that was done and the guidance given before it was decided that I would be accepted. Great care was taken by the team to match me with a 'friend' with whom I had things in common.

I have now been doing this volunteering for nine months and thoroughly enjoy it. I live alone but I am still able to drive and get out and about; however, I am aware of how different my life would be if I were not so active, and restricted in my social life. I phone my lovely 'friend' each week for about half an hour. I am safe and comfortable in my own home and do not have to pay for the calls, which are connected via an online number.

The lady I speak to is not able to get out much but has a very bright mind and is a delight to talk to. The follow up  care by the Silver Line staff is excellent too. I am very pleased that I saw your article and would encourage others to consider taking up this role.'
Frances, via email

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

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