MORVEN McLean volunteers as a telephone befriender for charity The Silver Line

VOLUNTEERING has always been a big part of my life. It has opened doors to a career I love (I have worked in a volunteering development since I graduated), provided me with life-long friends, given me vital experience to progress my career, and opportunities to travel internationally. It has challenged my perspective, given me focus and routine during difficult times, and above all, given me the opportunity to learn and broaden my horizons.

I’ve volunteered for a range of causes in a wide variety of roles, most recently in trustee positions. However the demands of being a trustee on top of my day job became too much, and I suffered the burn-out that we know many long-term volunteers experience. I took a year out from volunteering to consider what I wanted to do next.

That break was the best thing I ever did. It gave me time to consider my next move, and confirmed to me that I wanted to volunteer in a role that was totally different to my paid job. Trusteeship for me had become too like my paid work, with discussions of budgets, strategy and policy development, and I wanted to find a role on the front line, working directly with beneficiaries, to reconnect me with what first attracted me to volunteering.

I was at a friend’s wedding in 2016 when I got chatting to someone who mentioned that she had just applied to volunteer as a telephone befriender with The Silver Line. I hadn’t heard of it before so went home and researched it. The charity was established in 2013 by Dame Esther Rantzen, and is the UK’s only free, confidential helpline providing information, friendship and advice to older people 24 hours a day, every day of the year. I’ve always admired Esther Rantzen and remember hearing her speak so eloquently about the impact of her husband’s death. The words, “I have plenty of people to do things with, I just have no-one to do nothing with,” really struck me.

I had never volunteered with older people before, so this was something new, and I was attracted by the fact that I could volunteer from home, for just half an hour per week – which was manageable on top of my job and commute.

Every Monday evening at 7pm I phone Margaret for half an hour. Margaret and I have been friends for about 18 months now and I can’t imagine my week without our chats. She is such an interesting person with so much life experience and so many funny stories to tell. Margaret doesn’t keep well and is unable to leave the house much. She has told me that she is lonely and that my calls brighten up her week and give her something to look forward to. We chat about travel, films, day-to-day life, and Netflix (we’re both fans of The Crown!).

When my Grandad died last year, Margaret sent me a card. I was so touched by her thoughtfulness. She always sends me a birthday and Christmas card and I do the same for her. It’s funny to think that I’ve developed a friendship with someone I’ve never met (as Margaret lives in the south of England).

Loneliness is one of the most pressing issues affecting people in Scotland today. Volunteering with The Silver Line is a great way to play your part in tackling what is sadly becoming an epidemic.

Last year, The Silver Line took more than 80, 000 calls from Scotland. If you’re thinking of volunteering and don’t know where to start, I’d urge you to consider The Silver Line. There a number of different ways you can get involved, from volunteering, to raising awareness of their services, to helping to fundraise, I guarantee you won’t look back!

To find out more, and get involved, visit or call 020 7224 2020.