15 April 2016
Christopher Corden is Senior Macmillan Welfare Benefits Officer at Disability Solutions West Midlands.
Coping with a cancer diagnosis is hard enough without the added pressure of financial worries and navigating through the complex benefits system can be overwhelming. This March at Macmillan Cancer Support we’re focusing on Disability Solutions for those living with cancer.
Christopher Corden is Senior Macmillan Welfare Benefits Officer at Disability Solutions West Midlands where his role involves dealing with benefit claims for people living with and beyond cancer, their families and carers and also submitting Macmillan Grants to help ensure a better quality of life from diagnosis with treatment and care.
Christopher also works with Macmillan’s Expert Advisor Group to discuss the issues with the benefit system and this has helped recently with Macmillan’s campaigning for the Government to improve the law around accessing Personal Independence Payments for terminally ill people.
Within his role with Macmillan Cancer Support Christopher works closely with the medical staff at Macmillan Cancer Information Centres at UHNM and at Queen's Hospital, Burton on Trent. He says: 'We undertake a considerable amount of work with Katharine House (Stafford) and Douglas Macmillan (Stoke-on-Trent) Hospices and the Macmillan Community Nurse Team in Stafford. We also work alongside Macmillan partnered projects such as Beth Johnson Advocacy and Penny Brohn Cancer Care.'
Christopher adds: 'The best part about my job is knowing that we’re making a difference to people at a difficult time in their lives. When people come to us they are very anxious and financial worries weigh only second to the health problems. Being able to play a part in alleviating this anxiety and navigating clients through the “benefits minefield”, where many would just give up, is particularly rewarding.'
Christopher explains: 'Being part of Macmillan means being able to work alongside a national charity that supports a huge array of services and activities dedicated to helping cancer patients. This means that our service can be at the forefront of Macmillan’s cancer strategies around Staffordshire and be best placed to deliver the ancillary specialist welfare support people require when going through treatment. The need and demand for this type of service is clearly there as we assisted some 1,600 people in 2014/2015 (4,800 in total since 2012), and have generated around £12 million in benefit gains since that service was launched in July 2012.'
The benefits system with Macmillan Cancer Support is invaluable to patients and has helped numerous people when they’re going through cancer and can feel alone but Macmillan helps people remember that they’re not alone and there is always support out there.
Christopher recalls one recent incident where Disability Solutions was able to help a local patient He says: 'We recently assisted a gentlemen from Stoke-on-Trent who was undergoing radiotherapy for prostate cancer and had recently lost his job due to his illness. We were reliant upon a Macmillan grant, as well as other charities, and foodbank vouchers to help him through his general living while going through his cancer treatment. Without our assistance I think he could have very easily ended up homeless as a vulnerable person as before we were in touch with him, he had almost given up going through the minefield of benefits alone.'
Christopher and all his staff keep up to date with the complexities and changes to benefits through consulting a website dedicated to welfare rights and they belong to the North Staffordshire Advice Partnership which offers training and update sessions on changes to the system.
If you're facing cancer, you're not alone.Get in touch with Macmillan Cancer Support if you have any questions about cancer; visit www.macmillan.org.uk or call 0808 808 00 00.