10 December 2013
The Macmillan/Oxford CAB benefits advice project are celebrating having raised £1.8m in benefits and additional income for approximately 1,000 people affected by cancer last year.
This includes £59,000 in grants from Macmillan and other charities to help with the extra expenses a cancer diagnosis can bring.
The project was set up in July 2007 as a unique collaboration between three charities: Macmillan Cancer Support, Oxford Citizens Advice Bureau and Maggie’s Cancer Centres, and since it was established the project has raised £4.1m in total for people affected by cancer. In 2011 the Macmillan Advisers were in contact with approximately 1,000 clients who had been affected by a cancer diagnosis.
The aim of the service is to provide free, confidential, impartial advice and assistance to people affected by cancer, including families and carers on issues such as welfare benefits and entitlements, employment, debt and hospital costs. The support provided tries to ease some of the additional pressures a cancer diagnosis brings, enabling people affected by cancer to concentrate on dealing with the illness.
Kate Burnham, a Macmillan Welfare Benefits Adviser at the CAB said: 'The service has been a real success. The majority of people we see have never claimed benefits before and are so worried about their finances it is seriously affecting their quality of life. Money worries are the last thing you need when you're facing the toughest fight of your life. We're here to support them every step of the way by giving them advice and, where appropriate, helping them obtain benefits they are entitled to.’
The project has helped so many people following their diagnosis. One lady in her eighties who was being treated for lung cancer was so worried about her gas bills that she would not keep the heating on and was living in a cold home. She was helped to apply for a benefit that gave her an extra income of £3,827 year so she could afford to keep warm and pay for help when she needed it.
They also helped a young man who had to travel almost every day to the hospital in Oxford from his home in Bristol for his treatment. He was helped with a grant of £400 toward his travelling expenses.
For all these people the money the project has gained for them has made a huge difference to their quality of life and has meant that rather than worrying about their financial problems they have been able to focus on their treatment.
The project is based at the Maggie’s Centre at the Churchill Hospital and offers appointments, telephone advice and a drop in service. Every other Monday there is also a service at the Horton Hospital in Banbury.
If you are struggling to cope with the financial impact of a cancer diagnosis and you or your family member are receiving treatment at the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, please drop in or you can access the service by calling 01865 225689 for advice over the phone.
You can also contact the Macmillan Support Line for free on 0808 808 00 00 for practical and emotional support or visit the website.