Age Scotland welcomes Scottish Government funding for helpline expansion

Age Scotland has welcomed a significant new investment from the Scottish Government to help expand and sustain its helpline service for older people as the country responds to coronavirus.

Age Scotland welcomes Scottish Government funding for helpline expansion

The new cash injection of £615,000 will help fund the charity’s helpline which has been expanded to have the capacity to handle up to 1500 daily calls from older people, their families and carers, over the next three months.

Christina McKelvie, minister for older people and equalities, said: “We know older people are at risk from COVID 19 and its wider impact, and we are asking them to stay home.

“However we know that can be hard for people missing friends and family and Age Scotland’s helpline is therefore providing an invaluable service during this challenging time. The helpline staff are now ready to handle up to 1500 calls per day, offering a vital lifeline to those seeking practical advice or just a friendly chat.

“This extra £615,000 funding from the Scottish Government will help make this service available to many more people.”

Brian Sloan, Age Scotland’s chief executive, added: “For the last five weeks the sole focus of our organisation has been on scaling up our helpline to meet the demand of older people as they seek information, advice and friendship at such a worrying time.

“It has certainly been a challenge but one which colleagues from across the charity have met head on and with enthusiasm.

“Within the first week we were able to implement a virtual call centre so that all colleagues were able to work from home and we have seen call volume rocket to ten times the figure we would have handled before the coronavirus outbreak. We have also effectively reassigned the vast majority of colleagues to either take calls from older people or to support the helpline function, as planned projects and income generation for the charity have been put on hold.

“We are hugely grateful for the support of the Scottish Government, the First Minister and Ministers to ensure that our national helpline for older people is funded, is able to grow to meet demand and is sustainable for the coming months.

“There is no doubt that the country is in this for the long haul and it is vitally important that older people know that we are here for them not just during the COVID-19 crisis but beyond it.”

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