The pandemic hasn’t stopped a specialist welfare benefits service helping over 970 South East London cancer patients access nearly £3.9million[i] of welfare benefit entitlements in 2020 alone. The Macmillan Welfare Benefits Advice Service, which recently received a further 12 months of funding from the cancer charity, is run in partnership with Citizens Advice Southwark. The team of specialist advisors offer expert financial and debt guidance to people living with cancer, including family and carers.
Almost £86,000 of additional funding from Macmillan Cancer Support will ensure this vital service continues to help South East Londoners until at least 21st December 2021.
Despite the challenges that COVID has presented the team, the Macmillan Welfare Benefits Advice Service still managed to help 971 South East London residents access nearly £3.9 million of financial benefits that they were entitled to.
They also assisted 176 local people in accessing Macmillan grants of over £58,000[ii] for everyday essentials such as heating or hospital travel costs.
People with cancer may not have been able to claim these benefits without the assistance of this vital team which is currently operating virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With shocking new research from Macmillan Cancer Support revealing the precarious financial position that many cancer patients find themselves in – one in two people with cancer in London (53%) are severely financially impacted[iii] – resources such as the Macmillan Welfare Benefits Advice Service are proving more essential than ever, as some patients find themselves struggling financially while also dealing with the physical and emotional impact of the disease.
Kymberly Goh, Macmillan Welfare Benefits Team Manager and Senior Adviser said:
“Our service is really important for a patient’s cancer journey. Some people have never had to claim any benefits before they are diagnosed with cancer. It’s just such a minefield to navigate sometimes and having us there to support them gives them confidence. Others are vulnerable in other ways – maybe because of other health conditions or a language barrier. We’re there for all patients to check what they might be entitled to, help them with any forms and deal with any disputes that arise from the benefit claims. Patients should be able to focus on their health and not have to worry about whether they can afford to keep the heating on or how they might be able to fund their travel to the hospital for their next appointment.
“The pandemic has been pretty punishing for us all, but particularly for cancer patients. That’s why I’m so proud of everything the team’s achieved in the last 12 months on behalf of people living with cancer, despite the many challenges that COVID has thrown at us. We have continued to be there for our clients throughout, as COVID-19 could be the least of your worries if you can’t afford to put food on the table or heat your home.”