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New benefits advice service to help Edinburgh cancer patients

posted 16 Mar 2010, 02:39 by myEdinburgh Admin
A new service offering Edinburgh cancer patients, their families and carers advice and support to help them secure statutory welfare benefits has been officially launched.

A cancer diagnosis can have an enormous impact on someone’s income and many people don’t realise they are eligible for financial help.

Now workers at the new City of Edinburgh Macmillan Welfare Rights Partnership will identify statutory benefits and grants that people affected by cancer may be entitled to.

The service is a partnership between charity Macmillan Cancer Support and the City of Edinburgh Council. It has been funded by Macmillan with a grant of £450,000 over the next three years.

Elspeth Atkinson, Macmillan’s director for Scotland, said: “We know that financial worries are a considerable source of stress for people affected by cancer.

“At a time when many people are unable to work because they are unwell, they face a rise in daily expenses, such as travel to hospital and increased household fuel bills.

“This service will make a real difference to people affected by cancer in Edinburgh as it will help them to maximise their income by claiming financial help they often do not know they are entitled to.”

Councillor Paul Edie, Health and Social Care Leader at the City of Edinburgh Council, spoke at last week's event (March 10).

He said: “We welcome this partnership as it is an extremely valuable and worthwhile service – it is vital that people are supported through what is a very difficult time.

“We are looking forward to working with Macmillan to help cancer patients, their carers and families to feel like they are being looked after and that they are getting the best possible advice and support available right on their doorstep.”

Edinburgh woman Heather Mitchell, 50, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2002 and found that she was too unwell to continue working as a bank teller. Heather, who hopes to return to work later this year, was referred to the Welfare Rights Partnership by a nurse.

Partnership manager Janet Scott visited Heather in her Leith home and helped her fill in application forms for Disability Living Allowance, a Blue Badge and a bus pass.

Heather said: “Since my cancer diagnosis, my bills have gone up enormously. I feel the cold more because of my treatment and so my heating is on all the time. The cost of journeys to and from hospital also mounts up and I do find myself worrying about money.

“Janet was so helpful. I didn’t think I was entitled to anything because I was already receiving sick pay. Also, having seen how complicated the forms are, I was really grateful for the help filling them in.

“When you’re ill, the last thing you should be worrying about is money but there is a real stigma attached to claiming benefits. I think this service goes a long way to reassure people and help them to claim money they are entitled to.”

The service is based at The Advice Shop on South Bridge and sessions are also run from the Patient Information Centre at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

The launch, at the City Chambers in Edinburgh was attended by charity, council and service representatives, as well as people affected by cancer.

To find out more about the work of the City of Edinburgh Macmillan Welfare Rights Partnership, telephone 0131 225 1255 or email adviceshop@edinburgh.gov.uk

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