Friday 15th April 2016
Mac Voice, the magazine for Macmillan professionals: Spring 2016
Lynda Thomas, Macmillan Chief Executive, explains why raising awareness of our services and helping people who have money worries are among our priorities this year.
We are now well into 2016, but I’ve been casting my mind back over our achievements last year. We don’t officially report on these numbers until the publication of our annual report in July, but I am delighted to say in 2015 we reached more people than ever before, supporting 5.8 million people affected by cancer. This included 778,000 people who received face-to-face support from Macmillan professionals. Hearing from people who tell me about the life-changing difference your support has made really puts this vast number into perspective. Thank you for the wonderful work you do and for your continued commitment, it is truly valued.
This year, raising awareness of Macmillan’s services and support is more important than ever. Although we are reaching more people, the tough external environment has had an impact on the public’s perceptions of charities. Our brand remains strong, but there are thousands of people who still don’t know about Macmillan or the ways we can help them.
Look out in May for our refreshed Not Alone campaign, through which we will be highlighting our vital services and the enormous impact they have.
The financial impact of cancer
Raising awareness of our financial support offer is a particular focus in 2016. Being on the frontline, you will know that money worries are a growing concern for people affected by cancer. They are losing hundreds of pounds a month due to a loss in income and the extra costs they face as a direct result of their diagnosis. Changes to the welfare system also mean there is a growing demand for support.
We have already been doing some important work in response to this, including increasing the average size of a Macmillan grant to £400 and campaigning to stop cuts to sickness benefits. I am also really proud that Macmillan’s recommendations on how the banking industry could improve its service for people living with cancer resulted in the launch of Nationwide’s Specialist Support Service. The building society now provides tailored support to help their customers with cancer manage their finances; a first for the financial services sector.
The change we want to see
We’re breaking new ground, but more needs to be done to help people overcome the obstacles that prevent them from reaching out earlier. Whether it’s because they are too embarrassed, too ill, or simply unaware that financial support is out there – together we can start to break down these barriers, but we can’t do it alone.
To change behaviours and systems, we need more people to play a part in making sure a cancer diagnosis doesn’t automatically mean financial disadvantage. From the government and the NHS to charities, banks, insurers and people affected by cancer – we all have a responsibility to ensure people can access the right support at the right time.
As health and social care professionals and ambassadors of Macmillan, you too have a crucial role. Your influence cannot be underestimated when it comes to encouraging people to have early conversations about the financial impact of cancer. Please continue to signpost patients and clients to our financial guides and welfare rights advisers, or direct them to our website so they are able to get the support they need and don’t have to face the financial strain alone.
Thank you once again for the critical work you do each day – we simply wouldn’t be able to make the difference that we do without the high quality care and support you provide. Your work continues to inspire me and I’m looking forward to building on our relationship in 2016.
People can call Macmillan free on 0808 808 00 00 to speak to our financial guides and welfare rights advisers, or they can visit macmillan.org.uk/moneyworries