Founded by Dame Esther Rantzen, 
The Silver Line is the only free, national and confidential helpline for older people, open every day and night.

The Silver Line

Esther Rantzen

The charity, which relies entirely on donations in order to keep the helpline running 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year, offers information, advice and friendship. Dame Esther said:

“Since the death of my husband Desmond Wilcox, I know what it’s like to feel lonely – and so I also know what a difference it makes to be able to speak to a friendly voice.”

“Many people who call The Silver Line have led fascinating lives but now find themselves alone, often because they have lost a partner or other loved one.”

 “There is still a stigma to admitting you’re lonely, but I believe we should all be honest about our loneliness, so that others can help.” 

In addition to the charity’s helpline, services offered by The Silver Line include:

  • Telephone friendship: a weekly 30-minute chat on the telephone with a volunteer Silver Line Friend who is matched to an older person based on similar interests;

  • Silver Letters: an exchange of regular letters between an older person and a volunteer; and

  • Silver Circles: a regular group call on a range of subjects that interest the callers.

​If you are interested in joining one of the services, or you would like to find out more, please call the helpline on 0800 4 70 80 90 or visit 

One million calls and counting

Could you give just 30 minutes a week?

In August, The Silver Line received its one millionth call to the helpline since the national launch in November 2013. 

The millionth call came on a record-breaking day for the 24-hour helpline with over 1,600 calls received from older people, out-stripping the previous highest number of calls on New Year’s Day 2016. Over two-thirds of calls to the helpline are made at night or at weekends – The Silver Line is there when other services for older people aren’t – and over half say they literally have no one else to speak to. 

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. The charity says that without more public donations the vital service may have to close. 

Just £5 pays for a call from an older person to the helpline. If you would like to make a donation, please call: 020 7224 2020 or visit: 

With hundreds of Silver Liners (older people) waiting for a friendship call, The Silver Line urgently needs more volunteer Silver Line Telephone Friends. Training for the role is quick and easy, and once matched, you will need to give just 30 minutes a week to chat to a Silver Liner on the telephone.

Calls between volunteers and Silver Liners are completely free and are made using a secure online call system – so no contact details are ever exchanged.

“That half an hour on the phone with my Silver Line Friend is my favourite time of the week. It has made a huge difference to my life as she is often the only person I talk to all week.” Silver Liner

To find out more about becoming a Silver Line Telephone Friend, email:; call 020 7224 2020 or go to the website: