The Macmillan Welfare Advice Service based at Barnet Citizens Advice in Hendon has helped cancer patients across the boroughs of Haringey, Barnet and Enfield to access an incredible £835,203 so far and they expect to exceed their £1million target by the end of the year.
Macmillan Cancer Support likens cancer to a ‘financial wrecking ball’, as cancer diagnoses can result in reduced income, rising household bills and mounting transport costs to hospital appointments.
Shocking new data from Macmillan Cancer Support reveals the precarious financial position that hundreds of thousands of those in London are in, and the detrimental impact a cancer diagnosis could have on people’s lives:
• New research by the charity reveals that one in two people with cancer in London (53%) are severely financially impacted by their diagnosis
• Research also shows nearly one in five people in London (18%) – over 1.3 million people[ii] – have only £250 or less in savings
• Across the UK, two in five (40%) of those who were in work when they were diagnosed have either since lost their job or left work
People with cancer may not have been able to claim these benefits without the assistance of this incredible team who in non-covid times offer a face to face outreach service at Barnet Hospital, Chase Farm Hospital, Finchley Memorial Hospital and North Middlesex Hospital from the point of diagnosis.
Safia Akram, Project Manager – Macmillan Welfare Benefits Project, talks about her vital role in helping people access the benefits and financial support they are entitled to following their diagnosis. Safia says:
“Many cancer patients need to access benefits for the first time in their lives following diagnosis and don’t know where to turn to for help. It’s a complicated system to understand particularly at a time when they should be focussed on their health,”
“There are hurdles one after another and sometimes you feel as if you are fighting a losing battle. It makes me so cross when I witness DWP tribunal hearings taking over a year to conclude for people with ill health, it gives them unnecessary additional stress.
“We’re here to help people navigate that process. In the 25 years since I’ve been doing this job things have not improved for people needing and applying for benefits through no fault of their own. It is so disappointing that the processes and attitudes have not changed.”
Safia and her team of Macmillan Welfare Advisors (including Bettina, Rose, Sophie and Debbie) have been there to offer welfare advice throughout the pandemic although they have had to adjust their ways of working with all their meetings now taking place over the phone as opposed to face to face.
“Things went a bit quiet when cancer services were suspended for a while due to the coronavirus, but not for long. We let the Macmillan Information and Support Managers and clinical staff know at the start of the pandemic that we were still available online and over the phone, and how we are supporting people. We will resume face to face as soon as we can, but I’m pleased to say our ability to help has not been affected.”