The Duchess of Cornwall wrote an article about the importance of reaching out to the elderly community during the holidays this year.
In an exclusive article for The Telegraph’s Stella magazine, Camilla wrote about receiving a letter from a woman named Marlene, who lived alone in northern England and wrote about the loneliness she was feeling during the pandemic.
“Marlene wrote powerfully, yet uncomplainingly, of the loneliness she was experiencing, concluding, ‘It would have been lovely to speak to someone when I was at my lowest, and in pain. Not to moan, just to hear a friendly, caring voice,’” Camilla shared.
Camilla says she wrote back to Marlene and then put her in touch with The Silver Line, a charity that she is also patron of, which operates as a telephone helpline for elderly people in the United Kingdom, and is available 24 hours a day.
“During this hugely challenging year, The Silver Line has been needed more than ever,” the Duchess added. “Demand for its helpline increased by around 31 per cent when the pandemic began, and remains high. Age UK research shows that, in this country, just under a quarter of a million older people go for a whole week without talking to anyone – unimaginable to those of us who have family and friends at the end of a line.”
Camilla also wrote of how loneliness can be more acutely felt during the holidays, noting that last year “it was estimated that 850,000 older people would be spending Christmas on their own. Sadly, that number is expected to rise this year.”
The Duchess of Cornwall decided to write the article for Stella after learning that the magazine would be devoting the issue to people spending Christmas alone this year due to the pandemic. “For those of you who are feeling a bit isolated, I would encourage you to make the most of The Silver Line’s helpline: they have a team of wonderful people, ready and waiting at the end of the telephone to cheer you up,” Camilla wrote.
Camilla then revealed that she’d received another letter from Marlene after setting her up with The Silver Line. “She had rung the helpline and had an interesting and uplifting heart-to-heart with a charming young woman who volunteers for them,” the Duchess wrote. “That single chat had left Marlene feeling much happier and more positive about the future. If you know of an older, isolated person to whom you could bring a bit of festive cheer, please pick up your telephone and make the call – you really will make a huge difference.”
Camilla ended her article with a Christmas greeting for Stella readers: “May I wish all Stella’s readers a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!”