Thom on benefits and financial support

Thom is sat in an arm chair. He is wearing outdoor gear and his boots are muddy.

27-year-old Thom had emergency surgery for colon cancer, followed by nearly six months of chemotherapy. It affected his ability to work, and as a self-employed person, he worried about being able to pay his bills.

'I wouldn't be able to pay my bills.'

I've always been self-employed. And things were kind of good, but you don't realise until you get no income how that gap between having safety and being in debt is a very short period of time.

When you can't afford £20 to pay your phone bill or when you can't afford your rent – it happens really quickly. And then you pretty much don't have anywhere else to go.

I didn't really have any savings, but I didn't have huge debts either. So I was kind of in the middle, and I guess a lot of people would be like that. My family wanted to support me but you don't want the added burden of... You know, they're supporting you anyway.

In terms of the financial side of things I quickly worked out that I had to find some option, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills. And that was just the simple truth.

Denise, who was my benefits adviser, told me exactly what I was and wasn't entitled to.

'The advice and expertise was invaluable.'

Without Denise being there to go 'Right, this is what you're entitled to and this is how we're going to sort it and this is how we fill the forms out', I wouldn't have known how to sort it out. I genuinely wouldn't even know where to start.

The advice and expertise was invaluable.

You can apply for Macmillan Grants as long as they have purpose. So Macmillan paid for six months of car insurance so I could get to and from hospital just for test appointments, chemotherapy, etc. They also paid £25 for a smoothie maker, because that was a massive benefit of getting some nutrition when I didn't feel great. And they also paid for some travelling expenses because all of my family are based at least three hours away. So I could go and see them.

It just eases that burden because you've got enough to worry about anyway.