Big Wheesht September: Age Scotland launches sponsored silences campaign to highlight isolation amongst elderly

A charity has launched a sponsored silence campaign in September to highlight the issues of isolation amongst elderly people in Scotland.

Age Scotland has launched a sponsored silence campaign in September to highlight the issues of isolation amongst elderly people in Scotland (Photo: John Devlin).

By asking people to stay silent or give up their phone, Age Scotland is hoping to highlight the unwelcome silence many elderly people face especially during the pandemic.

Named the Big Wheesht, the September campaign is being run to highlight that over 200,000 older people in Scotland go at least half a week without speaking to anyone.

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For a chosen amount of time the charity is asking people to hold a sponsored silence, challenge yourself to give up social media, or part company with your mobile phone.

Other alternatives such as hosting a silent disco are also suggested.

Speaking to BBC Good Morning Scotland, Michelle Supple said: “In the month of September, we are really hoping to raise awareness of loneliness amongst older people but also raise some much needed funds.

"We know that loneliness was a public health crisis before the pandemic.

"The pandemic has made things worse and we’ve done recent research which has shown over half of older people feel lonelier than they did before."

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Chronic loneliness has a major impact on a person’s health and well-being, increasing the risk of heart diseases, stress, depression and dementia.

Speaking about how people can get involved, Ms Supple said: “There are lots of ways people can take part.

"It’s really up to people how long they take part for – it could be two hours and it could be a week.”

Funds raised will go towards the Age Scotland Friendship Line which has been a vital lifeline for older people throughout the pandemic.

Every £5 raised will fund a friendship call.

The Friendship Line is open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm and anyone can call the number on 0800 1244 222.

A weekly call can also be arranged with a volunteer to assure people they are hearing from someone regularly.

Supple added: "Hearing a friendly voice on the end of the phone makes such a difference to the older people that we support.”

To find out more, visit Age Scotland’s campaign page here.

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