Imagine a life where a visit from the postman might be the only human contact you have all week. For those of us who work in a busy office this is hard to imagine, but for many older people, it's a grim reality. Loneliness is a devastating problem in the UK and has a crippling effect on older people who endure it, day in and day out.
Loneliness saps the will to live and can be a major cause of depression, as one 80-year-old lady told me "I wake each morning, get dressed, and sit on my bed waiting for death. I have nothing else to look forward to." ChildLine has proved, as Samaritans proved before it, that an anonymous helpline can break through the barriers of shame or fear. So I suggested that The Silver Line might do the same for the older generation, and enable callers to disclose not just their loneliness, but incidents of neglect and abuse they dared not admit to anyone else. And so it has proved.
M.E/Fibro sufferers tend to be dedicated individuals who have pushed themselves to the limits of human endurance. Athletes, academics, and life's overachievers. And yet, we're labelled as lazy. So, the point is, with tongue firmly in cheek - if you haven't got M.E/Firbo, then you've simply not tried hard enough.