Help for Older People from Hourglass

The UK’s only charity focused on the abuse and neglect of older people, Hourglass is a lifeline for older men, women and their families suffering from the five forms of abuse: physical, psychological, financial, sexual or neglect. The Hourglass mission is simple: to end the harm, abuse and exploitation of older people in the UK. We find out more direct from the experts.

• What is the purpose of Hourglass?

Hourglass is the UK charity which is calling time on the abuse, neglect and exploitation of older people. We provide a fully staffed helpline, text service and instant messenger system and deal with over 9,000 calls per year. Most of our calls relate to financial or psychological abuse of older people in their own homes and in many cases the perpetrator is a member of their own family.

• When was it founded and what is its history?

The charity was founded in 1993 as Action on Elder Abuse before rebranding as Hourglass in 2020. The founding patron is Baroness Sally Greengross and she supported the organisation when the helpline was launched in 1997. The charity was largely England-based until 2014 when we started to proactively work in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

• How does Hourglass define abuse of older people?

The abuse of older people is a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person. This type of violence constitutes a violation of human rights and includes physical, sexual, psychological, and emotional abuse; financial and material abuse; abandonment; neglect; and serious loss of dignity and respect. This is as defined by the World Health Organisation.

• What are the common forms of abuse?

The majority of calls refer to financial or psychological abuse and this is where the trust issues are most apparent. However, during the lockdown we saw a rise in calls relating to neglect and emotional abuse. People were often trapped in their homes with their abusers and this saw a spike in calls. Hourglass also believes that whilst the helpline receives upwards of 9,000 calls a year, there are countless other cases that are unreported for a variety of reasons.

• How widespread is the problem?

Around one million people over the age of 65 are victims of abuse each year in the UK. That means an average of 2,700 older people will be victims every day. In research produced by Hourglass last year, more than a fifth of the UK public have personally experienced abuse as an older person (65+) or know someone who has been abused. Therefore the 9,000 calls received is simply the tip of the iceberg.

• What services does Hourglass offer?

Hourglass offers the only UK helpline for victims, their families, and practitioners in the age sector. Callers to 0808 808 8141 get expert advice and support – as well as signposting to other local and national organisations. It’s a bespoke service and has recently been bolstered by a new instant messaging service on and a confidential SMS service on 07860 052906.

• Does Hourglass have information I can access?

In 2020 Hourglass launched a unique Knowledge Bank for those looking for more targeted information and advice around the abuse of older people. This is available for all four nations of the UK and is tailored accordingly. Access to the Knowledge Bank is via the website at and is entirely free to use.

• Can I volunteer to help Hourglass?

Many of our helpline team are volunteers (across all four nations) and we are always looking for more people keen to train and learn to support victims and their families. Hourglass volunteers are at the heart of our work. They are at the frontline for people who need support, for all those who want to end the abuse of older people and help us ensure safer ageing for all. For more details please email or call us on 02077 890274.

• How else can I help Hourglass, such as by donating?

With little government support, the charity is reliant on support from fundraisers and donors like you and me. The sky’s the limit for fundraising opportunities that really make all the difference to older people who may not have anywhere else to turn. For a fundraising pack, or support with your ideas, get in touch with our dedicated fundraising team on: 02077 890274 or via email at

Alternatively, please visit our website and you can donate online straightaway. We would be hugely grateful for your support.

• Where do I find out more about Hourglass?

For more on Hourglass visit, or on Facebook at; Twitter @wearehourglass. And remember, if you need our assistance, please call the helpline on 0808 808 8141.

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