Staff and volunteers at Age UK Oxfordshire have congratulated campaign patron Esther Rantzen on receiving a damehood in the latest New Year’s Honours list.
She got the award on the back of her charity work for children through ChildLine, and most recently, for services to older people through her new charity The Silver Line – a 24-hour helpline for older people.
The celebration was two-fold as Dame Esther is not only the patron of Age UK Oxfordshire’s Today! campaign, she also spent time at the Banbury centre getting ideas and inspiration from the charity’s Phone Friends service.
Phone Friends is a free service where trained volunteers call older people in Oxfordshire who are isolated or lonely.
Sue Baxter, Today! campaign co-ordinator and a former Phone Friends volunteer, said: “We’re delighted that Esther has been honoured for all her good work through both ChildLine and The Silver Line. Not only is she a patron of our Today! campaign but she also spent time at the Banbury centre researching how we set up Phone Friends. The Silver Line is more a line where people can phone in but it’s the same principle – you’re talking to lonely people.”
Mrs Baxter added those who feel they would benefit from a weekly call, or know of someone who would, should contact Paula Donaldson on pauladon firstname.lastname@example.org or 01295 278040.
And service users are indeed very happy with having a friend at the other end of the phone.
Mick in Banbury said: “I enjoy having a laugh and the support I have had since my wife died. I look forward to the chat.” Bessie in Banbury added: “I enjoy the service and really like the chats each week. It’s good to know someone cares.“
The charity’s Today! campaign aims to raise £50,000 each financial year. This week the total is just over £46,200 so the charity is hopeful it will exceed the target before April.