Chris on being a Welfare Rights Adviser
Chris is a Welfare Rights Adviser on the Macmillan Support Line. He provides advice on all aspects of financial support, from social security benefits to the various grants that may be available to cancer patients.
'People are used to fending for themselves, but Macmillan can ease that burden.'
When people first get diagnosed with cancer, they're thinking about the treatment and what's going to happen next and just trying to get through that as quickly as possible. But then the financial side of things will hit them, as time off work starts and the extra costs of cancer start to build up. It becomes a noticeable effect further down the line.
I think there’s a level of surprise when people realise the financial effect of a cancer diagnosis. There are many extra costs – like parking, travel, energy bills and so on – that you’ll face just because you're going through cancer.
There’s a whole range of services on the Macmillan Support Line. There are welfare rights advisers, like me, providing advice on benefits and entitlements. There's a financial guidance team that helps people with financial products, insurances, mortgages, financial planning, wills and that sort of thing. There’s the energy team which can help people with energy bills and energy debt.
We provide callers with exactly the type of assistance they need, whether that's nurses, welfare rights, financial guides or emotional support. We aim to solve people’s problems as efficiently as we can, so that we’re helping more people affected by cancer in the UK.
'We aim to solve people’s problems as efficiently as we can.'
It's worth getting in touch with Macmillan even if you've attempted to look at the financial picture yourself. There could be all sorts of entitlements that you’re not aware of. If you’ve had an adverse decision on a benefit claim, it might not necessarily be the end of the process. We’re always happy to double check that you’re getting the full range of financial support that’s open to you.
We get a wide range of calls. Sometimes it might be the patient themselves. Sometimes the patient isn't able to call and a family member will speak to us on their behalf. Sometimes nurses will call, sometimes support workers, sometimes friends.
When people call Macmillan they're often surprised that the financial support is there for them. People are used to fending for themselves and getting through things in life, as you do. But by calling Macmillan, we can ease that burden.
It gives me a sense of satisfaction to know that I can help people to access vital financial assistance when they're going through a tough time in their lives. Quite often there's a whole sense of relief after speaking to Macmillan and accessing some financial support.