Elke Schilling, our partner at Germany’s GemEisamkeit and head of their helpline ‘Silbernetz', introduces our new members:
“4 years ago I was happy to meet Eve and Sylviane, for two days telling them, how Silbernetz works. Now all of us are happy to connect and exchange our meanwhile so different and also similar experiences with our offers to older people. So wonderful to see #malreden being there in Switzerland!”
And Eve Bino and Sylviane Darbellay of Malreden tell us a bit more.
Tell us about Malreden
‘Malreden’ is a telephone service that offers older people a low-threshold opportunity to get in touch with other people. It offers someone to talk to when no one is around. The service is intended to provide a first step out of loneliness and boost well-being for a moment.
Malreden offers three free and complimentary services.
malreden Hotline: spontaneous conversations on the telephone hotline under a free number; daily availability from 9am - 8pm
malreden Tandem: In-depth relationship with fixed “telephone friendship” between volunteers and users who have a longer conversation every week
malreden Info: Keep in touch by arranging offers for networking and support in the personal environment
The everyday conversations are anonymous, confidential and are conducted by trained volunteers. Malreden is not a help number for emergencies and has no counselling mandate. Malreden is a service offered by the “Silbernetz Schweiz” association, which is supported through donations and public funds.
The telephone service is operated by a pool of approximately 50 volunteers under the management of co-managers Eve Bino and Sylviane Darbellay. malreden has been available in German throughout Switzerland since its launch in 2021.
The association aims to contribute to the prevention of loneliness and isolation, is committed to raising awareness of the issue in society and relieves the burden on existing health and social services. It also enables people to help themselves through volunteering.
What motivated you to get involved in addressing loneliness and promoting social connection?
In our daily work, we were repeatedly confronted with the issue of loneliness in older people, which concerned us both greatly. Our society is getting older, and loneliness is becoming an increasing issue.
We want to counteract this trend and do something about loneliness in older people. Switzerland has many great offers for older people. However, it often seems too daunting for older lonely people to make use of these services. To counteract this, we are closing this gap with a low-threshold service. We want everyone to be able to meet their need for exchange, for a conversation.
How is Malerden addressing loneliness in Switzerland?
We hear about individual fates on the phone that we can have a noticeably positive impact on with our offer to talk. The fact that someone is there to listen and empathize with the other person seems to bring great relief.
One woman told us that the regular conversations helped her a lot to let go of issues that were concerning her. She has become more active, babysits, and has started to volunteer. Another woman feels strengthened by the conversations, she can get through the week well and the loneliness doesn't weigh too heavily.
What do you think are the emerging or key priorities that will shape our efforts to address loneliness and social isolation globally?
In our opinion, the most important priorities lie in the area of prevention and our own attitude towards loneliness. In this context, society (including the political level) will be strongly challenged, because only a changed awareness of its responsibility and a shift from exclusion to inclusion can win the fight against loneliness in the long term.
What does being a member of GILC mean to you?
We see our membership with GILC as a great opportunity to work together to make a difference in the fight against loneliness. As we have already mentioned, we see a civil-society problem where cooperation and networking between many organizations can achieve more than when small organizations fight alone. We look forward to becoming part of a large network, to learn from each other and to be able to make a positive impact together.