A HELPLINE set up for elderly people suffering from loneliness and isolation offered a listening ear to almost 1,000 people on Christmas Day.

The Silver Line, launched last year by TV presenter Esther Rantzen, helps people over the age of 50.

Operating from a call centre, 100 advisers take calls and, through the Silver Line Friend service, make regular phone calls to people across the country.

Chief executive Sophie Andrews said the service dealt with 680 calls on Christmas Day and made hundreds of calls itself to people on their own for the festive season.

She said: “It has been very busy.

“We made a lot of outbound calls on top of the 680 calls received, so you are looking at nearly 1,000 people spoken to.

“Myself and Esther made about 40 calls each ourselves. On a normal day we are taking about 500 calls.

“We are pleased with that but we want to reach more people, especially those who are not connected to any other service.

“We can go around putting leaflets in community centres but then we only reach people who use the centres, not the people who don’t leave their homes.”

Ms Andrews said speaking to people made her realise how lucky most individuals are to have big family celebrations at Christmas.

She said: “One of the women I spoke to had been waiting all day for her carer to come round to cook for her.

“She said she understood the carer had her own Christmas to sort out, but she had a chicken breast on the side waiting to be prepared.

“At Christmas a lot of people who are on their own start to reflect and think about lost loved ones and past Christmases.

“It can be a very difficult time for people suffering from loneliness.”

To speak to somebody at The Silver Line, which is based in Wesham, near Preston, call 0800 4708090.