This specialist service which is funded by Macmillan and run by Wandsworth CAB, was set up three years ago as a source of information and advice for cancer patients on financial issues. Local patients can get individual help with government benefit claims, housing issues and employment debt.

Olufemi Oluleye, Chief Executive of Wandsworth CAB says: “When patients in the borough are first diagnosed with cancer, they are given an information pack on their illness and it now contains details of our advice service. They can contact us directly or come to one of our outreach centres at St. George’s Hospital, Trinity Hospital and the Paul D’Auria Cancer Support Centre.”

“The people we are helping to claim benefits really do need this money and it’s making a real difference to their lives. Many have previously worked but due to their illness, they have lost that income. Patients are often eligible for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) but there are additional benefits available such as help with travel. Our aim is to ease the financial burden of people suffering from cancer.”

Wandsworth CAB Macmillan project statistics showed that patients were often being refused benefits simply because they hadn’t filled in the claim form correctly. A Macmillan Advisor for Wandsworth CAB helps patients to fill out forms and gives them individual advice and support.

Wandsworth resident Terence, 55, was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2008 and underwent radical surgery to his tongue and throat. When he initially applied for benefits he was turned down. But with help from Wandsworth CAB Macmillan project, he was able to claim Disability Living Allowance and was awarded £700 in back payments.

“The [project] were wonderful. They not only successfully appealed my claim; they also gave me back my confidence. Because I’d been refused benefit, I was very down, but the advisor said: ‘Don’t worry. We’ll fight this.’ The benefit is only £17 a week but it helps to pay the bills. The extra money I was able to claim back also gave me the chance to travel to the south coast and visit my children. Without this service, I would still be suffering financial difficulties.”