In my role as a Hearing Link Community Support Volunteer, I was put in touch with an older lady who preferred contact by letter. She was very lonely and depressed and one of the things I thought might help her was The Silver Line, a charity founded by Dame Esther Rantzen.
The Silver Line supports older people who are isolated via a 24/7 helpline and friendship services. Since much of their support is by phone, I asked them whether there was any way that a deaf person, who may not be able to use the phone easily, could benefit from the charity’s service. That’s when I found out about Silver Letters.
The service was set up in response to demand from older people contacting The Silver Line who could not have a telephone friend either through a hearing impairment or other issues. It was also created for people who simply prefer communicating with a friend via the written word.
This is the way it works. The person fills in a ‘Getting to Know You’ form to provide information about themselves, enabling The Silver Line to match them to a like-minded volunteer, a ‘Silver Line Friend’. The Silver Line try to find someone with a similar background, and take into account factors such as family, pets, hobbies, as well as other topics you might want to talk about.
They also consider how often you would like to write, and whether you would prefer to receive handwritten or typed letters from your friend. You can give as much or as little information as you like, but obviously the more information they have, the easier it is to find a like-minded friend for you.
The form is returned to The Silver Line’s head office: Silver Letters, The Silver Line, Trade Tower, Calico Row, London, SW11 3YH
When received, The Silver Line match the information provided with a suitable correspondent, and hopefully a lasting friendship will begin.
All information shared is confidential and all letters go via The Silver Line who forward them on to the intended recipients. Postage is paid for all correspondance – with freepost envelopes provided throughout your friendship – so all you need is a pen and paper!
To find out more information look at their website www.thesilverline.org.uk.
Gill Pestell is a Hearing Link volunteer and part of our Community Support Volunteer network.