Summer holidays see rise in calls to lonely helpline across Essex (From Clacton and Frinton Gazette)

A HELP line set up to lend a listening ear to the lonely has revealed a spike in calls coincided with the start of the summer holidays.

The elderly phone service The Silver Line, a charity set up by TV presenter Esther Rantzen, warns “summertime blues” may contribute to isolation or loneliness in the older generation While long dark nights can hit isolated pensioners in the winter, the summer days can also present problems.

Silver Line said there was a 7 per cent increase in calls in just the first week of the summer holidays.

Maureen Braby, 83, of Canters Meadow Court, Clacton, has been using the service for a few years and receives a weekly 30-minute phone call from her Silver Line friend, Liz.

Mrs Braby worked for British Telecommunications and moved to Clacton when she retired.

She said: “Because I’m on my own, and I live on my own it can be lonely.

“Clacton can be a lonely place but I phoned up the Silver Line once a few years ago and they were there to talk to me about anything.

“They suggested I got a phone friend who phones me once a week.

“Liz lets me know if she’s going on holiday or anything that would stop her calling me and she lets me know weeks in advance.

“You can ask them anything.”

Maureen’s first husband died at the age of 43 and her second husband died in 2003.

Although Maureen keeps in regular contact with her daughter, she lives more than 300 miles away in the Lake District so is unable to visit her as often as she’d like.

Maureen said it is thanks to the Silver Line she has the confidence to leave her house.

She said: “They really have changed my life. For years people stay lonely because they don’t really know people.

“Just yesterday I wanted to know something and they were there to point me in the right direction.

“I’m hoping this will reach out to other people. It’s there 24 hours a day, I even phone up at 4.30am.

“I felt guilty about that, but they said to me that I mustn’t – that’s what they’re there for.”

Dame Esther, who is the founder and president of Silver Line said: “We should all look out for older people in our community who have left behind during the summer escape and who, as members of the proud stiff upper lip generation, are often hesitant to reach out.

Silver Line is a free 24 hour service which can be contacted by calling 08004708090.

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