OLDER PEOPLE STRUGGLING to deal with the isolation caused by the emigration of both their children and grandchildren sought comfort from an Irish run helpline in 2012.

The ‘Senior Helpline‘, which is operated by the national voluntary organisation Third Age Ireland, received in the region of 15,000 calls in 2012.

Up over 50 per cent on the previous year, their head of communications, Anne Dempsey, told TheJournal.ie that the service, which operates from 16 different locations and has 360 volunteers, dealt with a wide range of issues throughout the year.

“We were open all over Christmas this year,” she says. “While we got the usual calls from people who would ring up right throughout the year, Christmas brought calls from people which were related to family bereavements and thoughts of health.”

The emigration of family members also proved difficult for many, with some callers having to deal with two generations of their family leaving.

“Two other areas that emerged were people worried about the year ahead from a financial perspective,” Dempsey says. “A lot of the people who ring us are entirely reliant on government payments and are worried about the upcoming property tax and fuel charges.”

The helpline is open each day from 10am to 10pm and costs the price of a local call. Its number is 1850 440 444.