A leading charity has backed North East groups helping cancer patients with benefit problems to the tune of £1.5m as it seeks to help some of the most vulnerable people cope with the cost-of-living crisis.
Macmillan Cancer Support has announced the funding will go to groups like the Citizens Advice Bureau and Newcastle City Council's welfare rights team. The extra funding builds on the charity's pledge to help those living with cancer during the deepening cost of living crisis.
Over 2021, 1,600 people affected by cancer across the North East were able to access this kind of support - and able to claim more than £5.5m more in benefits support during the most difficult times imaginable. The extended funding will go to organisations like Citizens Advice Bureau in Northumberland and in Darlington, the West View Advice and Resource Centre in Hartlepool, along with Newcastle City Council's specialist benefits support team.
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Alison Thompson, a senior Macmillan advisor at the West View Advice and Resource Centre said: "This continued investment from Macmillan is vital especially now in-the-midst of the current cost of living crisis. People living with cancer have enough to deal with, coping with their diagnosis and subsequent treatment.
"We can continue to give advice to people that will hopefully enable them to get cope. Many people don’t realise that not all benefits are means tested. Even something simple, like asking a client who is having cancer treatment, if they are getting their free prescriptions, you'd be amazed at how many aren't."
Alison said that sometimes people could be "too embarrassed to claim anything". She added "I always say if you're not entitled to something you won't get it, if you are entitled you will; use it as a stepping-stone."
Tina Thompson heads up support partnerships for the charity in the North East. She said: "People living with cancer need to be able to come to terms with their diagnosis and to then focus on their cancer treatment, coping with whatever challenges their treatment involves and achieving the best possible outcome."
She said cancer patients were often struggling with the emotional impact of a diagnosis on themselves and their friends and family, adding: "Financial worries should be the last thing on anyone’s mind when they are diagnosed with cancer, but the financial impact from things such as being unable to work, needing to use more energy for feeling the cold and needing certain foods is all the harder due to the cost of living crisis."
For information, support or just someone to talk to if you are affected by a cancer diagnosis, call Macmillan on 0808 808 00 00 or visit macmillan.org.uk.
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