Only Fools and Horses actress highlights “life-changing” support for older people

Actress Sue Holderness is calling on people over 65 to check they are receiving all of the financial support they are entitled to.

Sue, who is best known for playing Marlene in the much-loved sitcom Only Fools and Horses, has teamed up with the charity Independent Age in a new video.

In the video, Sue plays the character of Cathy who cares for her husband. Cathy’s story is based on actual calls to the Independent Age helpline. Viewers hear how Cathy is struggling financially after her husband had a stroke before seeing the difference a call to the helpline made for the couple.

Advisers from the charity perform welfare benefit checks to ensure older people are accessing all available support. On average, callers to the helpline who have a benefit check are missing out on £4,000 per year.

Sue Holderness said: “The calls to the Independent Age helpline are incredibly moving. So many older people are currently struggling with the cost of living, and many tell the advisers that it is the first time they have ever reached out for support.

“There can be so much pride in managing as we get older, but no one should feel ashamed or embarrassed about claiming the money they are entitled to.

“My character’s story is based on real calls and is a typical example of the help that is out there. But also of the lack of awareness of the support people can claim. I’m urging anyone over the age of 65 who is struggling with money worries at the moment to pick up the phone to Independent Age. The support they unlock really can be life-changing.”

Sue’s character discovers they are eligible for Carer’s Allowance, Attendance Allowance and Pension Credit. Pension Credit alone can be worth up to £3,500 per year in support, and comes with a range of additional benefits including Housing Benefit, Council Tax reduction and money towards new glasses or dental treatment that can be worth a further £8,000. Despite this, the latest figures show that up to 880,000 eligible people could be missing out.

Joanna Elson CBE, Chief Executive of Independent Age, said: “We are so grateful to Sue for helping us raise awareness of the support that is available for people in later life.

“Our helpline provides a lifeline for older people in financial hardship – one that takes them from what is often a very dark place. Through this video, we want to show the reality of poverty in later life and that support is available that can make a huge difference.”

Independent Age’s free and confidential helpline number is 0800 319 6789. The team can also be reached on

Sue’s video can be seen here:

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