Skip to content

Local Age UK lifeline under threat as demand soars during cost of living crisis

Published on 28 March 2023 10:40 AM

Age UK West Sussex, Brighton & Hove’s Information and Advice helpline is currently under threat as funding cuts, the cost of living crisis and a drop in donations have all impacted on the service for older people. Due to increased demand, the charity is unable to keep up with all enquiries and despite its best efforts, calls from some of the most vulnerable in the community are going unanswered.

Age UK West Sussex, Brighton & Hove (WSBH) is launching a fundraising appeal to help give older people a lifeline through this crisis. The lifeline appeal aims to support the charity and cover the cost of employing more specialist advisors. As little as £5 or £10 will help man the phones, supporting callers with their worries, concerns or queries. £50 will help provide tailored training for an advisor, enabling them to respond to some of the most common appeals for help.

Liz Ansell, Helpline Manager at Age UK WSBH said “This is such a tough time for us, funding cuts and increased costs may mean we have to consider reducing staffing at a time when we’re needed the most. Every day we get calls from older people living alone who are in tears about their financial situation, or who are feeling lonely and isolated. I know there are others who are trying to get through, but can’t. I hate that we’re letting people down, but demand is so high, we just can’t be there for everyone who needs us right now. I know times are tough for most, but if you’re able to support our fundraising campaign, the money will help us to be there for people who have nowhere else to turn.”

The Information and Advice team provides great value for money. For every £1 spent on the team, the charity is able to access approximately £18 in benefits/grants for older people. Last year, specialist benefits advisors identified over £3.3 million in extra income for older people in West Sussex, Brighton & Hove. Many had no idea they were entitled to anything. Most enquiries take over 2 hours of advisor time, cases are often complex and can require persistence and plenty of follow up to ensure that the caller has as much support as possible.

A typical caller: Mabel* is in her late eighties and lives alone. With mobility issues and a number of health conditions, she goes days without seeing anyone. She called Age UK WSBH as she was struggling to make ends meet. She was doing all she could - switching off her boiler when possible, sitting in darkness as she didn’t want to use her lights much, limiting hot food and drinks. Thankfully, she called Age UK WSBH. An in depth chat with a specialist benefits advisor helped her receive Pension Credit and Attendance allowance, putting over £600 extra in her pocket each month. This has been life changing, relieving the constant worry, plus allowing her to buy food and stay warm throughout winter. She’s so thankful she made the call.

* Anonymous case study, not her real name

Advisers on the helpline can provide up to date information and advice on a whole range of topics, not just financial matters. Housing needs, finding help at home, health and social care, family and personal matters, leisure and social activities, plus advice for carers is all covered.

Older people who need support can contact the helpline by calling 0800 019 1310, lines are open 9am – 2pm, Monday to Friday.

The umbrella organisation, Age UK, has just launched an awareness campaign called ‘Know what to do’ which outlines the support on offer from the national charity. Age UK West Sussex, Brighton & Hove is a local brand partner of Age UK, but is an independent charity, raising its own funds which are all spent locally.

Age UK WSBH is relying on donations to help as many people as possible right now. Donations to the Age UK WSBH Lifeline Appeal can be made by telephone on 0800 019 1310 or by visiting

Thank you so much for your support.