Citizens Advice Cornwall has marked one year of the Macmillan Welfare Benefits Advice service based at The Cove Macmillan Support Centre in the Royal Cornwall Hospital, Truro.
Citizens Advice Cornwall works in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support to offer welfare benefits advice to cancer patients, their families and carers, providing information about benefit entitlement and help to maximise income because of the additional costs of living with cancer.
In the first year since launching, CA’s Macmillan service has helped 525 people gain a total of £1.5 million in additional income through benefits claims.
The partnership has also administered £26,663 in Macmillan grants to clients in the last year.
Sixty-year-old welder, Brian Shovlin, from St Austell is one of the people Citizens Advice and Macmillan have helped.
Brian said: “The Citizens Advice Macmillan advisers have just been fantastic.
“I would have been in real difficulties if it weren’t for the Citizens Advice Macmillan team – I would have had no benefits at all. I was on statutory sick pay of £89 a week and was told I wasn’t entitled to any other benefits but my adviser, Sally White, managed to help me sort things out.
“I’m not used to filling out forms and paperwork but Sally has always had it ready and all prepared for me.”
When Julie Rushworth’s husband, David, was diagnosed with lung cancer, the couple from Hayle struggled to fill in benefits forms and were worried about how they were going to cope financially as David could no longer carry on his work as a baker.
“We spoke to a specialist nurse who put us in touch with Sally at Citizens Advice,” said Julie.
“I just do not know what we would have done without her help. It’s a long time since we had to fill out benefit forms and I couldn’t help David because so many of the questions didn’t seem to fit our situation.
“Sally was a godsend because she made sure the forms were filled-in properly and got everything sorted. We were under so much pressure and Sally took that pressure off so we could concentrate on the treatment.”
Citizens Advice Macmillan welfare benefits adviser, Emma Lewis, said:
“People come to us when they are already worried and stressed about their condition and treatment. We do everything we can to ease the pressure. We can assist with applying for benefits, help with appeals and also check for and make grant applications. “
The Citizens Advice Macmillan service covers the whole of Cornwall. Although many benefit enquiries are dealt with over the phone the team also offers a drop-in service at The Cove for initial advice and information.
Jacqui Hodge, Partnership Manager at Macmillan Cancer Support in Cornwall, said:
”I am so proud of the Macmillan Benefits Advice team at Citizen’s Advice Cornwall. The amount of benefits they have been able to unlock in the last year is incredible and will be a vital help to local people living with cancer. We know that when someone is diagnosed with cancer their finances can be hit hard by a loss on income and increased costs such as travel to hospital appointments. By helping people to access benefits which they wouldn’t have known about otherwise, is a huge help to people who might be struggling to stay afloat.”