Elderly left ‘stranded’ by summer escape

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The image of lonely pensioners in winter is a familiar one - but summer can be just as isolating, according to a Blackpool-based charity.

As others head abroad, older people can be left “stranded” with “nowhere to go and nothing to do”, the Silver Line helpline said.

Helpline boss Alan Walsh said: “Even if they do have friends and family nearby, for many older people the ‘summer ghost town’ phenomenon means the usual familiar faces or people they are in daily contact with suddenly aren’t around.”

He added that GPs, postal workers, shopkeepers and favoured radio and TV hosts are often all substituted with stand-ins.

The charity - which takes around 10,000 calls per week - said around three to four thousand more are usually received in July and August.

The Blackpool–based service offers lonely over-55s a friendly voice to chat to around the clock - particularly when other services are shut. Indeed, overnight and weekends comprise two-thirds of total calls.

Additionally, it offers regular weekly telephone calls - currently around 4,000 per week - or a pen-pal style letters exchange, delivered by volunteers.

The charity, of which the Duchess of Cornwall is a patron, was launched in November 2013 and said it has taken around one-and-a-half million calls since.

Founder and president Dame Esther Rantzen said: “We should all look out for older people in our community who have been 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 revealed the “loneliest” places for older people based on call volumes, with the top three regions in the UK listed as: Lancashire, Essex and the West Midlands.

Confidential and free, the Silver Line helpline number is 0800 4 70 80 90.