The pandemic hasn’t stopped a specialist welfare benefits service helping over 1,100 South West London cancer patients access nearly £1.6milllon of welfare benefit entitlements in 2020 alone.
The Macmillan Welfare Benefits Advice Service, which recently received an additional £190,000 of funding from Macmillan Cancer Support, is run in partnership with Citizens Advice Wandsworth. The team of specialist advisors offer expert financial and debt guidance to people living with cancer, including family and carers.
Despite the challenges that Covid has presented the team, the Macmillan Welfare Benefits Advice Service still managed to help 1,135 South West London residents with cancer access more than £1,595,419 of financial benefits that they were entitled to.
With shocking new research from Macmillan Cancer Support revealing the devastating impact of a cancer diagnosis – one in two people with cancer in London (53%) are severely financially impacted[ii] – 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.
Rodrigo Fenick Figueroa, Macmillan Benefits Case Worker at Citizens Advice Wandsworth explained how his team helps South Londoners living with cancer and the impact that the pandemic has had:
“Many people need to access benefits for the first time in their lives following a cancer diagnosis, but don’t know where to turn for help. It’s a complicated system to understand, particularly at a time when they should be focussed on their health, rather than their finances.
“Cancer patients are entitled to this welfare support, but they often tell us that the application process can feel like having to jump one hurdle after another. That it’s as if they’re fighting a losing battle, which can cause a good deal of unnecessary additional stress. We’re here to help people navigate that process.
Rodrigo and the team of Macmillan-funded Welfare Benefits Advisors have been there to offer their support and expertise throughout the pandemic:
“As a service, I’m really proud of the way we have risen to this unprecedented challenge. In very testing times, we have provided a high quality and comprehensive advice service without much interruption. Despite the fact that we are working from home, we continue to be there for those most vulnerable cancer patients, who are struggling badly at present. Cancer doesn’t stop for Covid and nor do the money worries!”
Robyn Jenkins, Macmillan Partnership Manager for South West London said:
“With recent research from Macmillan finding that 1 in 2 Londoners are severely financially impacted by their cancer diagnosis, it’s no wonder some patients compare cancer to a ‘financial wreaking ball’. Aside from the physical and emotional impact of being told you have the disease, it can also bring unexpected costs such as a loss of income if you’re too unwell to work, rising household bills and mounting transport costs to and from frequent hospital appointments.
“That’s why I am so proud that Macmillan has been able to extend our funding of the Macmillan Welfare Benefits Service here in South West London. The team are making a genuine difference to both the wellbeing and the finances of people with cancer in our community.
“Every £1 Macmillan spends on funding this service helps generate around £12.65 of additional income for patients in need. And this money is often for the absolute basics such as heating or ensuring people can get to their treatment appointments.
“The Macmillan Welfare Benefits Advisors continue to help Londoners living with cancer access the financial advice and support they are entitled to, so they have don’t have to face the financial impact of cancer alone.”
If you are affected by cancer, live in South West London and need financial advice, please contact the Macmillan Citizens Advice Service on 0207 042 0332 or visit their website: cawandsworth.org/macmillan