23 March 2015
Macmillan Cancer Support helped a record number of people in urgent financial need during 2014, with 1,493 cancer patients across Birmingham and the Black Country receiving a Macmillan grant last year to help them with costs arising from their treatment.
New figures from the charity highlight the financial isolation that often follows a cancer diagnosis. Patients in Birmingham and the Back Country received £419,818 for vital essentials such as heating bills, clothing and transport costs, as well as practical household items like new beds and also money towards short breaks for respite – an 8.7% increase on 2013.
Research by Macmillan also found that four out of five people are, on average, £570 a month worse off as a result of a cancer diagnosis.
Lauretta Beckett from Wolverhampton knows firsthand how vital this support is. She received a Macmillan Grant of £250 to help support her following her diagnosis of ovarian cancer. She says: ‘It was my daughter who found out about the Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Centre at New Cross Hospital, she rang up and spoke to Mario and he asked us to come in for a chat. He was brilliant, he gave us some information leaflets and talked to me about how I was feeling and where I might be able to get some extra support. That’s how I found out about the Macmillan Grants.’
‘I am undergoing chemotherapy as part of my treatment and at first I really struggled. It made me feel really nauseous and I couldn’t eat, I completely lost my appetite. I lost quite a lot of weight and now my clothes are all too big. It’s uncomfortable and embarrassing going out in public and to church in clothes that don’t fit. Mario helped me to apply for a Macmillan Grant of £250 which I have used to help me buy some new clothes. Being able to buy clothes that fit has made me feel a lot better, more confident and more comfortable. It helped me to feel more like me again. I want to share my story so other people know where they can go for help and support.’
Hilary Waite, Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Centre Manager at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton, says: ‘Each week I see people with cancer who just do not know how they are going to pay the next fuel bill or their costs for getting to and from hospital for treatment. Macmillan grants are a vital way of providing some support to these people, so that they can concentrate on their health rather than worrying about finances.’
Rachel Hobbs, Macmillan Cancer Support Senior Communications Officer said of the record numbers: ‘Our latest grants figures demonstrate the dramatic financial impact cancer has on the lives of patients and their loved ones. In 2014 Macmillan helped more people than ever before, as we continued to work to ensure that nobody faces cancer alone.’
‘People undergoing or recovering from cancer treatment should not have the additional worry of how to pay for absolute basics such as heating their home, or bedding to keep warm. There are 2.5million people now living with and beyond cancer in the UK. And with this figure set to double by 2030, we believe that our next government needs to make cancer a priority. That’s why Macmillan is urging all of the main political parties to commit to matching the best cancer outcomes in Europe by the end of the next Parliament.’
In 2014, Macmillan awarded over £10million in grants to 33,011 people across the UK. The Macmillan grants programme gives payments to cancer patients who have limited financial resources and are in need of immediate assistance, giving an average level of help of £303 per person assisted.
Macmillan helped more patients with clothing than with any other cost arising from having cancer. This was followed by grants to help with the cost of fuel bills and the cost of travelling to and from hospital for treatment.
Rachel concludes: ‘Macmillan believes no one should face cancer alone and we urge any cancer patients who are struggling financially to contact our helpline to find what support is available to them.’
Every week, over 634 people in the UK receive a grant from Macmillan Cancer Support. Macmillan relies on public donations to continue providing this vital financial support to people affected by cancer. To donate to Macmillan Cancer Support, please call 0300 1000 200 or visit macmillan.org.uk/donate.
Macmillan grants are just one of the ways Macmillan can help with the cost of cancer. For more information about financial support available to patients, please call freephone 0808 808 0000.