Nicola Sturgeon has announced a further £80,000 in funding for the Age Scotland helpline to support older people during the coronavirus pandemic.
The extra government money will help to increase the charity helpline’s capacity from roughly 100 calls a day to approximately 1,500.
It will also go towards new equipment and allow staff to work from home while following the UK Government’s advice on social distancing.
The Age Scotland helpline aims to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on older people, who are especially vulnerable to the virus.
It offers practical advice for them and their families, or just a friendly chat for those feeling lonely after reducing their social contacts.
The funding is part of a £350m government support package for people, communities, local authorities and the third sector as they face the impact of the virus, details of which will be announced on Wednesday afternoon.
The First Minister said: “In these challenging times, when we are faced with a pandemic to which older people are especially vulnerable, Age Scotland’s helpline is providing an invaluable service.
“As older people are advised to reduce their social contacts to protect themselves from COVID-19, the staff here in Edinburgh are a lifeline to those seeking practical advice or just a friendly chat.
“I am delighted that with this extra funding, the Scottish Government will help make this service available to many more people.”
Brian Sloan, Age Scotland’s Chief Executive, said: “This is a concerning time for many older people and it is important that they have access to the most up to date, and trustworthy, information and advice as Scotland adapts to COVID-19.
“We are delighted that the Scottish Government are making a further investment in the Age Scotland Helpline so that we can scale up our efforts to provide information, friendship and advice to older people, their families and carers at this critical time.
“This will also help us increase the number of friendship calls we make to older people across Scotland who may have no one else to talk to as they socially distance themselves, providing them reassurance and a friendly chat.”
The money is additional to the £140,000 a year the Scottish Government already provides for the helpline.
Age Scotland’s free, confidential helpline is available on 0800 12 44 222 Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm.
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