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Rewarding roles

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“It’s a win-win!”

Volunteers from Age UK's network tell us why they want to give back, and what they love most about offering their support.



The Age UK network is fortunate to have thousands of volunteers who generously give their time and expertise to help older people.

For volunteers Asha and Helen, offering to be a friendly voice at the end of the phone has resulted in rewards they never expected.

Finding new perspectives

Asha, 73, has volunteered as a telephone befriender for the last 10 years – first for The Silver Line Helpline, and more recently for the Age UK Telephone Friendship Service.

“When I retired in 2013, I needed to do something,” Asha explains. “Four days of my week were already full of volunteer work, but I was searching for something to fit in on the fifth day! I heard of The Silver Line and was lucky enough to get training to become a volunteer. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and at one point had four telephone friends.”

For Asha, conversations with one of her telephone friends have given her an opportunity to reflect on memories of her upbringing and to learn from others. “I was born in India, many years ago, and came to this country in 1979,” says Asha. “And I used to call a woman who was also from India. She was Muslim, while I was born into a Hindu family, but we shared a similar language, festivals and ideologies.

“She used to tell me that, although we worship different gods, we’re the same. I looked at her understanding of humanity and the role of religion in our lives, and felt like she was my teacher.”

“Another caller was an author,” Asha adds. “We shared similar ideas and skills, but I learned lots from her as well.”

With close ties to social work and medicine, Asha understands the importance of staying connected to others as we get older. “I worked in the Citizens’ Advice Bureau and in social work – I dealt with family problems, refugees, housing and loneliness,” Asha reveals. “And my husband is a retired GP. He’s had experiences of older people telling him: ‘I’m depressed. This loneliness is killing me.’”

When I chat to my friends, sometimes they start off not very good, and some say that during the whole week they’ve not spoken to anyone before me. But we chat about anything, and by the time you finish they sound positive.


“One friend was unhappy, but as we had our weekly chats, she started to sing songs. That’s the power of communication and positive ideas.”

Asha is clear that she’s reaping the benefits too: “I’m lucky to have these friends.”

Other ways to volunteer

As well as volunteering over the phone for Age UK, there are plenty of ways to give your support in person or online. Three celebrity visitors recently explored just some of the volunteering opportunities available across Age UK's network.

Find out more

Mutual help

Helen, 49, volunteers for The Silver Line Helpline, answering calls from older people who might be feeling concerned or lonely.

“I love talking to people – particularly older people – and I’ve done quite a lot of volunteering, but nothing like The Silver Line Helpline before,” Helen explains. “I think it works for me because it fits around my job. I try and do three hours a week – one hour a day for three consecutive days – and I like speaking to a variety of people.”

During these conversations, Helen has found that her own experiences have helped her to better understand the issues faced by some of her callers. 

A lot of the topics that I’m discussing on calls cross over with my own life, and I can relate to a lot of people who call the helpline in different ways.


“I live alone and was a carer for my mum when she was alive,” Helen explains. “I’ve lost my parents, my brother and a best friend. So especially in terms of bereavement and grief, I get it. I know it inside out.”

Helen is benefitting from the calls too. “It’s helping me a lot,” Helen says. “I would say that The Silver Line for me has been my silver lining, because it’s made me feel more present in the everyday. It makes me realise how lucky I am, and I come off the calls thinking: ‘My goodness, I’ve learned something again today.’”

“I would definitely recommend volunteering if you’re a people person,” Helen notes. “It doesn’t just help the older people who call – it does so much for the person that’s volunteering too. Even if I’ve had a challenging day, I always come away from volunteering thinking that at least I’ve helped someone. It's a two-way thing, for those who enjoy answering calls and those who love calling – it’s a win-win!”

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By volunteering with Age UK, you'll be helping us support the older people who need us most.

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Last updated: Feb 05 2024

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