Available in: Share article

Vilnius helps seniors in isolation with Silver Line

Telephone conversations become the safest form of communication, says service's manager Kristina Čiuželienė

  • March 18, 2020 15:30
  • Author Plamen Petrov
Medium vilnius silver line
Source: Vilnius City Municipality

Coronavirus-related quarantine or voluntary self-isolation demand new forms of communication to overcome the psychological burden of staying at home. This concerns all ages but curtailing social relationships can be particularly painful for the group that is most at risk - the elderly. Well aware of this, Vilnius City Municipality is offering them a trusted helper - the Silver Line telephone service.

“One thing is hygiene, food, staying at home that we already care about. Another is the emotional state of people closed between four walls. First and foremost, we want to take care of the most vulnerable group of virus victims - the elderly, who sometimes need but lack even minimal talking. I'm sure the Silver Line will help here," says Mayor of Vilnius Remigijus Šimašius.

The line staff and volunteers have been answering hundreds of seniors' calls not only in Vilnius but throughout Lithuania for four years on weekdays, from 8am to 8pm. Both single people and those who have relatives but want new acquaintances call. 

Sometimes seniors need guidance, sometimes referral to specialized aid organizations. Conversations often take half an hour or more. It is conceivable that in this difficult time, everyone may need advice or attention more often. 

The line staff estimates that there are more than 2,000 callers on a regular basis, and some of them enjoy the privilege of having a regular interlocutor - one of 300 volunteers or another senior.

Service's popularity requires more volunteers and sponsors

In order for this line to work properly, as many volunteers as possible are needed to talk to registered seniors. Vilnius City Municipality is also calling on private sponsors to make donations to the platform directly or via aukok.lt. 

All of this support is highly anticipated today, as the service enjoyed a record-breaking demand for the past two months: 1,955 calls (42,000 minutes) in January and 2,082 calls (41,896 minutes) in February.

“Sharing experiences with friends or relatives is most effective in reducing anxiety, but for the time being, live contact with people should be avoided as recommended. And this can greatly enhance the feeling of loneliness and even greater exclusion. Telephone conversations become the safest form of communication that effectively helps you regain your composure. A good and sincere conversation helps not to get sick,” says Kristina Čiuželienė, manager of the Silver Line call centre and co-founder of the M. Čiuzelis Charity and Support Foundation.

For their attention to lonely old people, last year Kristina and husband Marius Čiuželis were distinguished by Vilnius City with a St Christopher Award.

Like the article? Subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest from the EU cities right into your inbox.