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Silver Line launches

Monday, 3 December 2012

The Isle of Man has been chosen as a pilot for the launch of The Silver Line helpline for older people.

The Silver Line helpline set up by Esther Rantzen CBE, is a dedicated telephone service aimed primarily at lonely older people. It is a confidential 24 hour freephone service offering advice, information and friendship to people living on the Isle of Man. The number is 0800 328 8888 and Isle of Man residents will be able to make a truly free call to this number from their landline, thanks to the support of Manx Telecom.

The helpline will offer support to vulnerable older adults by signposting and linking them to services which already exist in their area, as well as offering a telephone befriending service using specially recruited and trained volunteer befrienders - ‘Silver Line friends’.

Callers can be confident that their calls will be handled off-Island to maintain anonymity. It is also hoped that the callers will build trusting relationships with the Silver Line friends which will give them the confidence to reveal any underlying problems which they may be suffering from such as abuse or neglect.

Esther Rantzen, CBE Founder and Chair of The Silver Line will launch the Isle of Man pilot of The Silver Line helpline on Monday 3 December at the Barrool Suite.

The Isle of Man has been chosen along with Manchester to pilot the service for three months. The helpline will then be rolled out nationally in the summer 2013.

Chief Minister Allan Bell MHK said:

'We are delighted to take part in this pilot. The helpline offers vulnerable adults an opportunity to hear a friendly voice at the end of a phone 24 hours a day. More importantly it also provides them with a safe and secure number to contact in confidence. With dedicated staff who have been trained to spot abuse it will also play an important role in the safeguarding of our vulnerable older people. The service also offers timely support to the work that we are already doing to look after the mental and physical wellbeing of our residents through projects such as our good neighbour scheme. I am grateful to Steve McGowan and Douglas Stewart of SMP Partners who played the decisive roles in bringing The Silver Line to the Island and to Manx Telecom for their support.'

Esther Rantzen said:

'We appreciate that the Isle of Man already has a vigorous and creative support network for older people, and I have had the pleasure of meeting some of the inspirational staff and volunteers working in this sector. I know that those responsible for care of the elderly are well aware of the hugely damaging impact loneliness can have on health and wellbeing. However, there is a stigma attached to loneliness which all too often prevents older people asking for help. The Silver Line will signpost them to local services and charities which could transform their lives. We hope that our Freephone number 0800 328 8888 will become so well known that older people will use it for advice, information and friendship. No question will be too big, no problem too small… there is no need to be alone.'

Sophie Andrews, CEO for The Silver Line added:

'Esther and I have had the pleasure of meeting some of the inspirational staff and volunteers working in this sector. For example, we visited a Day Centre run by Age Isle of Man and also the Men in Sheds project at Port Erin to hear for ourselves of problems and issues from carers and attendees. It was a delightful and valuable experience for us both.'

Minister for Social Care, Hon Chris Robertshaw MHK, said:

'The Silver Line service will raise awareness about older people's issues and, most importantly, enhance our understanding about the things that concern them most. This will help to us plan and commission services that ultimately improve their lives and help to keep them feeling safe.'

Cath Hayhow, Assistant Director for Adult Services in the Department of Social Care said:

'We welcome the Silver Line pilot on the Island. This new and innovative service will be a real opportunity for us to identify gaps in the wide range of services which are already in place, and offers local people a genuine choice about where they seek support.'

Steve McGowan and Douglas Stewart have been appointed as the Honorary President and Honorary Chair of The Silver Line Isle of Man.

'From the moment that Doug Stewart brought The Silver Line to my attention,' commented Steve McGowan, 'SMP has wanted to support Esther’s welcome initiative in every way possible. Our appointment to honorary roles is a privilege and we intend to ensure the success of the pilot scheme leading to a national roll-out of the helpline next year. We are all grateful for the support from local businesses on the island who have offered to assist the venture, not least Manx Telecom for supporting the Freephone helpline.'

Further information can be found on The Silver Line website.

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