As a Macmillan benefits adviser, Fiona Crowe has seen the financial impact that a cancer diagnosis can have. She spoke to us about the support she provides, the issues she sees and why she loves her job.
In a nutshell, how would you describe your role?
‘My job is to meet with cancer patients and provide information about applying for benefits. It’s about understanding what benefits the person coming to see you is entitled to. I can then help them manage all the necessary paperwork.’
Do you hear of recurring issues?
‘Cancer impacts people differently but I definitely would agree that there are some recurring issues.
‘Debt is a big issue. I’ve seen a lot of people go close to the wire with repossession of their own property.
‘I also see people who just don’t have enough money to make it into hospital. And I’ve seen people go through all of their savings and that of their families before they’ll even claim benefits.
‘Pressure on relationships is another big issue, particularly when a family member is providing care. Because benefits aren’t being processed quickly enough, the carers can’t claim the appropriate support.
That must be difficult for everyone...
‘It is. And people can start feeling isolated. I have spoken to patients who haven’t left the house for weeks. They’re staying indoors and they sometimes can’t afford to heat their homes, so they go to bed and lie under the duvet to keep warm.
‘They’re not having that interaction with their peers, with their family, going out shopping, going to work, and they’re becoming more and more isolated.’
It must be rewarding to know you can help.
‘I’m very proud to be part of the Macmillan team. I feel I’m working for an organisation that is not only making a difference, but I work with people that genuinely care’.
Read our interview with Shola, who received financial help from Fiona.
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