Macmillan gives over £124,800 to keep Devon cancer patients above the breadline

Macmillan Cancer Support has revealed that in 2016 it gave out grants totalling approximately £124,8001, to Devon residents who were struggling with the financial hardship that cancer can bring. Across the south west region, the charity provided just over £849,3001 in grants to help keep cancer patients financially afloat last year. With hundreds of Devon cancer patients relying on charity handouts to stay above the breadline, Macmillan Cancer Support is calling on the Government to change the law to ensure banks do more to ‘play their part’ as the financial crisis for cancer patients grows.

Last year in Devon Macmillan provided approximately £33,5001 to help local people living with cancer pay their heating bills; £21,0001 for travel costs to get to hospital appointments; £28,9001 to help clothe people who often experience sudden weight gain or loss due to their treatment and £5,900 for weekends away or days out to convalesce.

Thom Hunt, who was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2010 at the age of 27, explains how a Macmillan grant helped him. “Being diagnosed with cancer at that age was a real shock and having been self–employed and suddenly not able to work, my savings quickly ran out. The Macmillan benefits team based at the Macmillan Mustard Tree Centre in Plymouth helped me apply for a Macmillan Grant which allowed me to keep my car on the road so that I could get to hospital for chemotherapy appointments, as well as travel to visit my family who were three hours away by train. The grants are so vital because they ease the burden when you’ve got enough to worry about.”

Macmillan Benefits Advisor Denise Martin added “We talk to many people like Thom who are facing a very tough time financially so being able to offer a Macmillan grant, where people are eligible, can be a real lifeline. It’s often to help with things like increased energy costs due to feeling the cold more; kitchen appliances such as food processors for people who can’t eat solid food and travel to and from hospital for appointments. They can also allow someone who is very ill to have some precious time away with their family. Cancer is really tough on people’s finances and Macmillan’s grants are one way we can take away some of the worry so that they can focus on their health.”

For the majority of patients (83%), having cancer costs an average of £570 per month2. This is a result of lost income – if people are too ill to work – and increased expenses such as petrol if people need to travel to hospital and higher household bills because cancer patients often feel the cold more during treatment.

Macmillan has seen a rise in the number of financial grants it has given out to cancer patients over the last four years and says a combination of inflation, the rising cost of living and welfare reform could have exacerbated people’s financial difficulties during this time, forcing them to turn to charities for support.

With the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill currently going through parliament, Macmillan is urging the Government to change the law so that banks and financial service providers have a legal duty of care to their customers.

Everyone has a part to play in making sure the financial shock of cancer doesn’t turn into a crisis. To support Macmillan’s Banking on Change campaign visit macmillan.org.uk/bankingonchange

Anyone affected by cancer living in the Devon area can ask their healthcare professional for a referral to their nearest Macmillan Benefits service, or visit macmillan.org.uk/in-your-area where they can enter their location to information on how to contact their closest Macmillan Benefits service. Alternatively, they can call the Macmillan Support Line free on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday - Friday 9am - 8pm.)