Cancer charity Macmillan Cancer Support has given out millions of pounds in hardship grants to help people with cancer who are struggling with the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The charity’s grants are available to anyone living with cancer in Bath and North East Somerset facing financial difficulties, thanks to donations from the public.
During 2020 Macmillan gave just over £138,800 in hardship grants to people with cancer across Somerset, with £23,900 allocated in Bath and North East Somerset alone, meaning over 450 people were able to pay for home comforts and essentials, such as heating their homes, travel to hospital appointments, bedding and clothing.
Nic Pollastrone received a Macmillan grant after he was diagnosed with leukaemia followed by throat cancer during his treatment at the RUH.
He said: “Being self-employed my income stopped overnight when I was diagnosed so my Macmillan Benefits Adviser Karen arranged a grant for us.
“It was in winter, so it mostly went on heating. I was having treatment at the time and I’d sit in the lounge with the fire on full and a blanket but I was still so cold due to the treatment.
“It’s hard to describe, it’s like you can’t get warm. That one payment helped us for about 8 weeks. Believe me, it was a huge help not having to worry about the heating bills.”
Macmillan grants are means-tested and one-off payments of £350 are aimed at helping people living with cancer on low incomes.
They can be a help especially when many cancer patients are having to shield during the current lockdown by paying for things like a new washing machine or going towards energy bills.
The charity reports that more than a third of people with cancer (39%) are severely financially impacted by their diagnosis.
Macmillan expects their grants will continue to be a vital safety net for many and will become more in demand than ever as many families deal with the double blow of a cancer diagnosis and the financial impact of the pandemic.
The most common reasons people apply for Macmillan grants are to buy new clothes when their cancer treatment had resulted in body changes, to help pay for higher than normal heating bills from staying at home, travel costs to and from regular hospital appointments, which can mount up significantly during treatment, and bedding.
Karen Gough a Macmillan Benefits Adviser at Bath and North East Somerset’s Citizen’s Advice said: “As the pandemic continues, we want to remind everyone that Macmillan is here to help, whatever it takes.
“One way is with a Macmillan grant to help pay for the little things that can make a big difference to the lives of people living with cancer, especially at the moment.
“Imagine your washing machine has broken, or you can’t pay your heating bill, or you need to buy a blender because cancer treatment means you are having trouble eating but you can’t afford one.
“It’s these basics that a Macmillan grant can help pay for, making someone’s life that bit easier when they need it most, and it’s all thanks to our supporters.”
To find out more about Macmillan grants, including who can apply, you can contact the Macmillan Benefits Advice team in Bath and North East Somerset on 01225 303819/20, call the Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 00 00 open seven days a week or visit macmillan.org.uk/grants.
The Macmillan Support Line also has specially trained nurses and cancer information specialists who can provide information and advice, as well as emotional support, to help people with cancer cope with the additional strain of the coronavirus pandemic.
Karen added: “If you are struggling to meet the extra costs of cancer, I’d urge you to call Macmillan to see if you are eligible for a grant and the rest of the support on offer.
“Macmillan are only a phone call away and are waiting to help you.”