Gary Rycroft column

Gary Rycroft.
Gary Rycroft.

I was in London last week speaking at The Institute of Legacy Managers (ILM), who are the people working at (usually bigger) charities administering the legacies received from gifts in Wills.

I was talking about a new Law Society Wills & Inheritance Quality Scheme (WIQS) whereby firms of solicitors who specialise in this area of the law can be accredited.

ILM members were delighted about this because of the problems they encounter with home made Wills, or Wills prepared by unqualified Will writers, which mean the intended beneficiaries miss out on what they should be getting. However, I was only the warm up act. The headline speaker was Esther Rantzen, who was there to spread the word about a new charity called The Silver Line. Not surprisingly Esther turned out to be a very able and entertaining speaker.

She was also very honest about how it was her own battle with loneliness after she downsized from the big family home and was living on her own for the first time, that led her to investigate what practical help there was for others in her situation.

The answer was whilst many charities including Age UK offer a great deal of help and support for older people but there was no 24/7 telephone helpline offering simply friendship and company, in other words focused solely on tackling isolation.

Esther’s background both as TV journalist and as the person who set up Child Line nearly 30 years ago, means that in terms of creating a much needed helpline for older people it is a case of “cometh the hour cometh the the woman”.

The Silver Line is free, confidential and open 24 hours a day seven days a week. No question is too big, no problem too small and the service means there is no need to be alone.

The telephones are staffed by paid employees of the charity working out of a call centre and also by an increasing number of volunteers.

As Lancastrians we can be both pleased and proud that the friendly voices at the call centre are local to us in that it is based at Wesham, near Preston. The Silver Line Number for information, friendship and advice is 0800 470 80 90.