The Northern Trust, in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support and Antrim District Citizens Advice Bureau, has introduced a new Benefits Advice Service for patients who have had a cancer diagnosis.
Over 9,000 people are diagnosed with cancer every year in Northern Ireland and there are approximately 55,000 people living with cancer, however, many of these people are struggling financially because they are not receiving the benefits they are entitled to.
Cancer patients often experience a double whammy of a reduction in income due to being unable to work and increased costs such as travel to and from hospital. Anxiety and concern about money can lead to additional stress at an already difficult time.
By working in partnership with Macmillan and Antrim District Citizens Advice Bureau it is hoped everyone affected by cancer in the Northern Trust area will get help to access advice and support when they need it most.
The Service expects to generate more than £1 million per annum in the Northern Trust area for those affected by cancer and it is available to anyone who has recently been diagnosed with cancer, is currently undergoing treatment or is receiving palliative care as a result of a cancer diagnosis.
Patients can be seen locally in Antrim Area Hospital or Causeway Hospital by the Macmillan Benefits Advisers who can be contacted on 078 9528 7302 or 028 9446 9944.
This will be complemented by a Macmillan Benefit Uptake Helpline which is available to anyone affected by a cancer diagnosis. The helpline operates between 9am and 8pm Monday to Friday and can be contacted on 0808 808 000.
Barry McVeigh, Macmillan Development Manager, commented: “We know that financial worries are a considerable source of stress for people affected by cancer. A cancer diagnosis often brings people into contact with the benefits system for the first time and its complexity can be bewildering.
“This lack of knowledge of benefits can also lead to people assuming that they would not qualify for any financial assistance, leading them to not actively pursue claims. We hope by providing both the face to face benefits advice service and the benefit uptake helpline that people in the Northern Trust area will get the support when they need it most.”
The face to face benefits advice service works alongside the Macmillan Information and Support Service which aims to provide relevant, accurate, up-to-date information, along with support and advice, to cancer patients, their families and all those involved in their care.
Through these services, it is hoped no one within the Northern Trust Area will have to face cancer alone. The service can be contacted on 077 9584 5435 or 028 9442 4000 ext. 333079.