Camden is loneliest borough in the capital, shock figures reveal

TV Presenter Esther Rantzen set up The Silver Line in response to her own feelings of loneliness aft

TV Presenter Esther Rantzen set up The Silver Line in response to her own feelings of loneliness after the death of her husband Desmond Wilcox in 2000. Picture: PA Archive/Michael Stephens - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Ima

The Silver Line Helpline, founded by Hampstead TV star Esther Rantzen, gets more calls than anywhere else in London

Dame Esther, 76, said The Silverline Service receives more calls from Camden than anywhere else in London.

These calls, usually at night, come from old people who are feeling isolated, lonely or are being neglected or abused.

The report looks at calls made since The Silver Line was launched in 2013, with Camden topping the table with a total of 5,014.

She said: “Camden is the loneliest borough to live in and we have to ask why this is.”

Two thirds of calls were made during the night or weekends, yet this out of hours service is under threat without urgent funds.

She said: “Every day we hear from lonely older people who have led interesting lives but are now isolated, utterly alone, and literally have no one to speak to for days .”

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The highest number of calls come at Christmas and New Year.

The Silver Line was set up by Dame Esther after she experienced loneliness following the death of her husband Desmond Wilcox.

The growing demand means The Silver Line needs to raise £1.65million to prevent the night and weekends service closing.

Dame Esther said having lived in Camden for many years, she was shocked to see the borough at the top. “I have always thought of it as a warm and diverse community. I am shocked to discover so many older people are isolated here. Perhaps we are so busy with our lives, we have become complacent.

“We do not recognise the people next door or who we pass in the street. But there are elderly people in a vacuum who are suffering and have become invisible to us.

“A conversation, a cup of tea, or just a hello or shared joke can actually transform someone’s day.”

Donating £5 pays for a call to the 24-hour helpline while £100 will pay for regular friendship calls.

Camden’s cabinet member for health, young people and adults, Cllr Georgia Gould, said: “We are determined to combat social isolation in Camden. We want to support our older residents to play a full and active role in communities. This is why we are working with older people and a variety of organisations to deliver our Ageing Better in Camden partnership.”

Silverline helpline: 0800 470 8090. To donate visit

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