Hourglass, the UK’s only charity focused on tackling the abuse and neglect of older people, has this month launched the UK’s first 24/7 helpline as part of a major push to bring the “hidden epidemic” of abuse experienced by older people out into the open and get victims the support they need.
As many as 2.7 million older people in the UK are thought to be victims of abuse, yet new data from the charity’s helpline shows only a fraction of these (0.2%) are accessing the helpline to get specialist support from Hourglass.
Thanks to funding from the Home Office, the 24/7 helpline means anyone can call, day or night and the 28% of people who sought help in 2021 outside of office hours will now get the support they need. The Home Office funds cover England, but the charity is committed to a four nation helpline.
Speaking about the expanded service, Hourglass CEO Richard Robinson said:
“The pandemic, increased social isolation, the social care crisis, a stretched criminal justice system and a lack of public awareness, have all contributed to unacceptable abuse being experienced by older people.
“Thankfully we are increasingly aware of other forms of abuse like child abuse and domestic violence, but the abuse of older people remains in the shadows even though it affects millions. So many people are suffering and don’t know where to turn for help. We must bring it out into the open and support older people who are experiencing it to get the help they desperately need.
“Our helpline going 24/7 is an important step in doing that and I urge any individuals or organisations who care for older people to promote it as far and as wide as they can.”
Dr Jessica Taylor best-selling author, psychologist and founder of the charity, Victim Focus, is supporting the launch:
“It’s scandalous that such a widespread form of abuse remains firmly under the radar. Because it’s so hidden in our society, we are making it incredibly hard for those experiencing it to seek help.
“We must shine a light on it, destigmatise being a victim of this form of abuse, banish any feelings of shame and show there is help and understanding out there for those it affects – the helpline going 24/7 is brilliant but we all have a role to play in supporting victims.” She said.
Alongside the 24/7 helpline, Hourglass is also working to expand its specialist Independent Domestic Violence Advocate (IDVA) scheme into more local authorities, to help older victims remain safe in their homes.
The helpline is also for family members concerned about an older relative/friend, as well as those within the health and social care and criminal justice sectors. The charity is calling on all people and professionals who support older people to reach out, whatever time of day, if they are concerned about abuse, and to promote the helpline number as far and wide as possible.
The helpline number is 0808 808 8141.