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Age Scotland helpline at work

Guest blog: Age Scotland

  • Social Inclusion

Last year, Age Scotland received funding from KCCF through our strategic partnership programme. Read the guest blog below to learn how Age Scotland is working to transform lives and build sustainable communities, supported by KCCF.

We were delighted to receive our strategic grant from the King Charles III Charitable Fund which, over the last year, has contributed to the support of Age Scotland’s free national helpline, providing an information, advice and friendship service. As the national charity for older people in Scotland, we have experienced an increase in demand for our services following Covid-19 and the cost-of-living crisis, and your funding has allowed us to be there for more older people who need us most.

Our national helpline is at the heart of the charity, providing year-round impartial and confidential information, as well as advice, to older people, their carers and families. Every week, we answer hundreds of calls to our helpline from older people who are struggling with the rising cost of living and other challenges later life brings and are seeking urgent advice. We also receive calls from people who are desperately lonely and just need someone to talk to. Our service is delivered by staff and volunteers.

Helpline Manager Morna comments:

‘The cost-of-living crisis and the energy crisis have been key drivers for people phoning the helpline and seeking advice around income maximisation with many callers telling us that they are in the desperate position of having to choose between eating and heating their homes. This demand is shown by the significant client financial gain identified by our helpline advisors – an increase of 183% in the second half of the year compared to the first six months of 2023.’

Often digitally excluded, we ensure that older people also have access to over 70 free hard copy information guides tailored to their needs. This can be independent of our advice line service or provided as a follow up to a call. The publications range from the CareHomeGuide and AttendanceAllowance, to Caring for someone in the early stages of Dementia.

Our friendship line, included within our information and advice team, offers vital friendship to lonely and isolated older people. They tell us the service makes them feel less alone and we know of callers who often sit by the phone waiting for the call, often being the only person they’ve spoken to that day.

Morna adds:

‘Having carried out our national Big Survey in 2023, where 49% of participants said they were cutting back on food with 10% skipping meals completely and 19% eating less healthily; and 79% said they were cutting back on energy and heating, this is reflected in the calls we are receiving on the helpline.

Being able to help so many older people through the helpline, thanks to the support of the King Charles III Charitable Fund and other partners, is hugely rewarding for the team. And sometimes it can mean the difference between being cold, hungry and lonely, or warm and comfortable.’

We are incredibly grateful to be a strategic partner of the King Charles III Charitable Fund. Sadly, we don’t predict any downturn in the volumes of older people in Scotland who desperately need our support, but know with valued partners like the Fund, we can continue to be a lifeline for those older people who need us most.

Case Study:Age Scotland’s helpline supports Caroline

Caroline lives on her own in Fife after her husband, Harry, suddenly passed away last year. She recently called our helpline worried about getting by this winter. With inflation rising, pushing up food bills and already frightening energy costs she was concerned how she was going to pay her bills:

‘I was panicking, my husband usually dealt with the bills. He’s not here anymore and I don’t have any family help. My pension was already stretched and I’d cut back on my food shop. I really worried about how I was going to pay my energy bills this winter.’

Caroline spoke to Simone, one of our helpline advisors, who carried out a benefit check and identified additional benefits Caroline was entitled to. Caroline described this additional support as ‘life changing’ and would ensure she could stay warm this winter.