I am sure your readers are as shocked as I am by the huge changes the pandemic has imposed on all our lives.

It has been devastating, affecting everyone, everywhere. At The Silver Line we know just how difficult this pandemic has been, especially for isolated and vulnerable older people.

The Silver Line helpline is open 24/7 offering information and friendship to older people, and at the start of lockdown demand for our service increased by up to 31 per cent.

I often say that we are suffering an epidemic of loneliness, and now the pandemic is causing even more stress and anxiety for those already on their own, as well as meaning even more older people, especially those shielding, are experiencing isolation.

The virus is far more serious for those of us who are over 65, and some of our callers tell us they’re worried if they catch the virus they may be taken to hospital alone, that they may even die alone.

Many callers are also concerned for their family, or that their own carers will become unwell, as well as feeling worried about how to access food and care. But they say that their calls to The Silver Line give them real reassurance, that a caring and friendly voice makes all the difference.

I’d urge those who are struggling during this difficult time to please call The Silver Line on 0800 470 80 90. We are free, confidential, and open all day and every night to provide support and comfort for those who need it.

Dame Esther Rantzen

Founder of The Silver Line