Respected campaigner Dame Esther Rantzen has highlighted the plight of elderly people in Burnley who are among the loneliest in the country.
Dame Esther was speaking as her charity, The Silver Line, released figures that showed it received more calls from lonely elderly people in Lancashire than anywhere else in the country.
Every day we hear from lonely older people who are now isolated, utterly alone, and literally have no one to speak to for days on end.Dame Esther Rantzen
The charity received some 38,450 calls from elderly people in the county since its national launch in November, 2013.
Dame Esther said: “Every day we hear from lonely older people who are now isolated, utterly alone, and literally have no one to speak to for days on end.
“Calls come from places as different as the rural north of Lancashire and urban Burnley. Our figures show there are lonely older people living in every street and we know that for many night-times are the worst for them.”
As well as the helpline, The Silver Line has 3,000 volunteers who make regular friendship calls, or exchange letters with older people.
The charity also makes a further 2,500 keeping in touch calls every week to isolated older people.
But due to growing demand, The Silver Line now needs to raise £1.65m. to pay for the night-time and weekends service.
Burnley MP Julie Cooper said that everyone had a role to play in fighting loneliness.
She said: “We have a lot of very lonely elderly people in Burnley for various reasons. Societies and families are much more dispersed now and the world is changing so fast.
“I know about the work of The Silver Line and I would urge anyone feeling lonely to give them a call. They have some great volunteers. For elderly people, to be able to develop a telephone relationship can be a real lifeline.
“There are also a lot of great luncheon clubs at the like in community centres around Burnley, which also do a fantastic job, but they are increasingly under threat from government cuts. I’m fighting hard to keep them open.”
The Silver Line can be contacted day and night for free on 0800 4 70 80 90.