THE work of a specialist benefits team for cancer patients has been celebrated at Wiston House.
The small Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) team, based in Worthing, helps 84 people a month, offering a unique service across West Sussex.
People diagnosed with cancer are given guidance to help lessen the financial burden following diagnosis.
Julie Martin, head of service at Central and South Sussex CAB, explained: “The team concentrates on all the non-medical matters that, if left, can have a detrimental effect.”
The CAB Macmillan Welfare Benefits Service was set up in 2007 and has been funded by the cancer charity ever since.
Lisa Lusk, one of the team of five, said: “A lot of people have never claimed a benefit in their life and suddenly they are ill and don’t know what to do.
“You speak to very distressed people most days but it really does make a difference to people’s lives. That is the best part of the job.”
High Sheriff Jonathan Lucas and his wife, Caroline, joined partners, colleagues and friends for the afternoon tea celebration last Thursday.
He said he had seen similar good examples of partnership working and applauded the project, which is based at Worthing Town Hall, in Chapel Road, Worthing.
Patients who have benefited from the service spoke of the difference the team had made to them.
CAB Macmillan Welfare Benefits Service first set up 2007| Team of five helps 84 people a month across Sussex| Patients say the advisers offer vital support in a time of crisis|Michelle Quibell, wife of cancer patient Ed Quibell
Jacqui Chipchase from Littlehampton, who has suffered mouth cancer, having watched her husband die from cancer, said: “You feel very isolated. Cancer is very expensive to have. It feels like you have to jump through hoops just to get even a small amount.”
Team members are fully CAB trained but specialise in working with cancer patients.
Ed Quibell, 44, from Worthing, had cancer 25 years ago, at the age of 18. The disease and radiotherapy damaged his stem cells and now it is affecting his hearing and speech.
In September, he had to give up his full-time role as vicar at Hosanna Church, part of the Broadwater parish and based at Worthing High School.
His wife Michelle, said: “We had no idea how to access benefits. The most amazing thing is that they meet with you and fill out all the forms, because you have no idea.”
The CAB Macmillan Welfare Benefits Service, based at Worthing Town Hall, helps hundreds of people across West Sussex every year.
Unexpected costs faced by cancer patients include transport to and from appointments, special dietary needs and child care.
From April, 2013, to March, 2014, the team advised 900 people with cancer or other long-term illnesses, giving them free, independent advice on applying for disability benefits and more.
During this time, the Macmillan benefits team gained more than £2.5 million for their clients. This included total weekly benefits of £45,689 and total one-off gains of £211,767.
Overall, 92 per cent of enquiries to the team are about welfare benefits, but the team can also help with advice about benefit entitlement, completing claim forms, appealing against incorrect decisions, getting benefits backdated and collecting medical evidence.
The team can also help with things like applications for Blue Badges, which make a big difference to people with walking disabilities.
People can contact the team directly by email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01903 532234.
Visit the website www.centralandsouthsussexcab.org.uk for more information.