Dame Esther Rantzen joins Editor Diane Kenwood for a cup of tea and talks about Queen Elizabeth I, Benedict Cumberbatch and her new charity helpline for older people
Our Cup of Tea interviews on the opening pages of Woman’s Weekly are one of the most popular elements of the magazine, so when we decided to try and make some videos of these quick-fire chats I was delighted that Esther Rantzen agreed to pop into my flowery office to film the first one with me.
Esther is, of course, well known for her eminent broadcasting and media career, but also for being the founder of the remarkable charity, Childline.
Following the publication of an article in the Daily Mail where Esther wrote about the loneliness she felt following the death of her beloved husband Desmond Wilcox, and the inevitable departure of her grown up children from the family home, Esther was overwhelmed by the letters and emails she got from older people saying what a relief it was to be able to admit how lonely they felt.
Being Esther, she wasn’t prepared to let what she describes as ‘this epidemic of loneliness in the elderly’ go unchallenged. It took two years of campaigning, planning and cajoling, but at the end of 2013 Silver Line was born. The free, confidential 24 hour helpline was inundated with calls from the start.
They provide befriending weekly phone calls to thousands of lonely elderly people and the opportunity to join in group chats through conference calls they call Silver Circles.
Through all of these activities their aim is to help their clients feel confident enough to ‘plug themselves back into the community’ and to put them in touch with services and charities that can help and support them.
The Silver Line number is 0800 4708090. Find out more about the charity, what it does and how you can get involved at http://www.thesilverline.org.uk/