Help for cancer sufferers in Darlington could be lost as hospital advisor role cut

The Advertiser Series: CAB's struggle for funding leads to axing of benefits advisor helping cancer sufferers CAB's struggle for funding leads to axing of benefits advisor helping cancer sufferers

INVALUABLE help for cancer sufferers is set to be lost as advice services in Darlington continue a struggle for funding.

Cancer sufferers are often left struggling to deal with day-to-day concerns around issues like work, finance, bills and benefits.

For several years, an advisor from Darlington’s Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) has worked with Macmillan Cancer Care at Darlington Memorial Hospital to provide practical help and advice for cancer sufferers.

From April, the service will no longer be provided at the hospital due to a lack of available funding.

Neeraj Sharma, chief executive of Darlington CAB, said: “The service lets people get on with recovery without worrying about issues like benefits, heating their homes or problems at work.

“People having chemotherapy feel the cold more and those with cancer often have me off work, meaning higher energy bills.

“There are transport costs to and from hospital and concerns around employment and they still have to look after bills and mortgages.

“We’ve helped people fill in complex forms, apply for grants and get the benefits they’re entitled to and have helped cancer patients get more than £500,000 in additional income.

“The service provides peace of mind and it will be a real shame to lose it but we’ve been unable to find funding to continue it after April.”

A concerned hospital visitor said: “It’s a really important service and it will be dreadful to see it go.

“This is going to have serious implications – people will struggle to get the help they are entitled to, this service is invaluable to them.”

The service was previously part-funded by Macmillan Cancer Support.

Fay Scullion, the organisation’s general manager for the East Midlands and North of England said: “Macmillan Cancer Support has funded a welfare rights adviser for six years at Darlington CAB on the basis that funding for the post would be picked up at the end of that period.

“We extended the funding to allow further negotiations throughout last year as we were keen to see the post continue but unfortunately were not successful due to the strategic changes in the CAB.”

Those affected by cancer can still receive support from benefits advisors by calling the Macmillan Support Line on 0808 80800 00.

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