Andy Peterson, Head of Strategic Propositions at Tunstall, talks about a new partnership that could make a big difference to the lives of people who use telecare services in Birmingham.

This week will see the start of an exciting pilot programme very close to my heart, one which could make a big difference to the lives of the recipients.

It was over a year ago that I sent off a speculative email to The Silver Line asking for an introductory chat, shortly after which I met with Anthea Beeks, the charity’s Head of Befriending, to talk about the possibility of the two organisations working together.

Now, after several months of planning and negotiations, we’re on the cusp of starting a six month programme of Reassurance Calls for users of the Birmingham Telecare Service (BTS), the programme operated by us in support of Birmingham City Council (BCC).

For those of you who aren’t aware, The Silver Line was set up in 2013 after some determined work by Esther Rantzen, the campaigner who created the concept of ChildLine. It operates a free confidential helpline 24 hours a day designed to support older people who may be lonely or feel isolated. One of the services it offers are scheduled phone chats made by its staff to people who have asked for some personal, regular contact. The calls last for around 10 to 15 minutes on average and there are no set topics: the idea is to promote a comfortable social environment. Having listened to some recordings of actual calls I can tell you that they’re inspirational – sometimes funny, sometimes sad, but that the older people who receive them all seem to get a major boost in confidence and self-esteem. (You can find out more about the work of The Silver Line in the film, above.)

When we suggested the idea to BCC they immediately saw the potential benefits for their citizens. We’ve taken some time to design the right service and make sure that things like training and processes are completed, but as of now we’re ready to start.

At Tunstall we’re lucky enough to see the amazing, sometimes life changing effect that our services can have, and this project represents another piece of the jigsaw in terms of our achieving our vision of giving older people the freedom to live their lives independently and securely, in a place of their choice.

Find out more about Birmingham Telecare Service

Read more about the partnership