The calls to combat loneliness, the duel for the death of a direct family member -especially the first year- and family separations or discrepancies soar at Christmas in the ‘phone of the elderly’, a service launched by the Canary Islands Government about four years ago and managed by the NGO the ‘Telephone of Hope’.
The technical director of the organization, José Cabrera, tells Europa Press that there are many people “in a distressing situation” and “need to talk to someone”, especially after 80 years, when loneliness is already widespread.
Between user profile of the service 900 70 70 720 – paid by the Government of the Canary Islands with a subsidy of 100,000 euros per year – there are women widows who live alone (76%) but the number of single and retired men “who are at risk” has also increased because After a life devoted to work they failed to have a stable partner or create a family unit.
In general, says Cabrera, people “demand to feel heard” and that is the first service offered by the phone, “and from there,” they are presented with all the resources at their disposal in the environment such as the associative fabric or the processing of administrative aid, another of the main demands.
“Participating in activities is a great way to prevent loneliness,” he says.
The organization plans to close this year with more than 3,300 calls and more than 4,000 in the ‘telephone of hope’, a similar service although more oriented to people between 35 and 55 years, age segment in which the calls derived from the effects of the economic crisis also stand out. example increased 20% between 2009 and 2010.
Cabrera also points out that “the everyday” is parked at Christmas and sometimes “thank you” calls are received for the services provided.
30 counselors and two psychologists
The NGO has two volunteer centers in Tenerife and Gran Canaria in which a total of 30 counselors provide telephone assistance, volunteers who have received training for more than a year in listening techniques, aids relationship or personal development.
If the users agree to continue with the tutelage of the program, there is a psychologist in each province in charge of guiding the elderly in the “accompaniment” of their new activities. “This first step must be done well because it is essential not to go back,” he said.
According to the calculations of the organization, one in five people over 65 spend Christmas alone in Spain, in total about two million people, of which 850,000 are over 80 years old.