South Shields cancer support charity helps clients claim £1.8million

From left benefits assistant Brenda Errington and charity advisor Kathryn Cox.
From left benefits assistant Brenda Errington and charity advisor Kathryn Cox.

A charity which helps people diagnosed with cancer is celebrating bringing a staggering £1.8m worth of help to families in South Tyneside.

The cash had been successfully claimed in benefits in the last year by people who have turned to South Shields-based support group Cancer Connections for help.

Deborah Roberts of Cancer Connections.

Deborah Roberts of Cancer Connections.

The charity - based in Harton Lane, South Shields, provides advice and support to those diagnosed with cancer.

While it offers people a range of support services - ranging from counselling to complimentary therapies - it is the charity’s welfare and benefits service - funded by Macmillan Cancer Support - which has proved to be worth it’s weight in gold.

Last year, the service - led by specialist advisors Kathryn Cox and Brenda Errington - helped people claim £1.6m - that figure has risen to £1.8m over the past 12 months.

The charity has also seen a rise in the number of people coming through the doors - with more than 4,000 people in the past five years seeking help and support after being told they have cancer.

You go from having everything, to nothing

Deborah Roberts

Co-founder of the charity Deborah Roberts said: “We have been running the welfare benefits service for 10 years and it has proved to be such an invaluable help.

“Finances is one of the biggest issues and worry that people who have been diagnosed with cancer have. We have known people to struggle to pay bills and in extreme situations lose their homes.

“You go from having everything, having a regular wage coming in from a job to having nothing.”

She added: “These people are fighting for their lives and find themselves with money worries as well.

The rear garden at Cancer Connections.   Picture by FRANK REID

The rear garden at Cancer Connections. Picture by FRANK REID

“They have travel expenses to get to and from treatments and appointments. Even buying a coffee between appointments could be too much for them.

“We are averaging around 60 people new clients a month and that doesn’t include renewals. We have people who need benefits advice, help filling in forms and those needing blue badges.

“This year, we have supported 12 families who had nothing. No food in their cupboards or toys for their kids for Christmas.

“It really can be a horrendous place to be in which is why we are doing all we can to support people diagnosed with cancer in all aspects of their life.”

It is estimated around 600 people a year are diagnosed with cancer in South Tyneside with a number being referred to Cancer Connections for support.

Deborah added: “When we first set Cancer Connections up, we never thought it would become so big. But there was obviously a gap in the support available to those diagnosed with cancer and their families.

“We are obviously filling that gap.”

Clothing giant Barbour recently agreed to fund a part-time administrator for the charity in a bid to help with the day to day running of the charity.

Cancer Connections relies on the public and businesses in order to continue to provide the services needed by those who have been diagnosed with cancer and their families.

For information on the charity visit cancerconnections.org.uk/ or call 456 5081.

£4,000 boost for charity

Cancer Connections is £4,000 better off after a group of ladies hosted a fundraising night.

Mavis Maughan, Laura Morland, Lynda Lamb and Fran Manson once again joined forces to organise their annual charity event.

This time, the theme was Halloween, with the ladies performing their own version of the Thriller routine put together by friend Brett McIntyre.

The night raised £2,340 which included the raffle which was match funded by Barclays Bank.

The group were supported in their fundraising venture by Barbour, Asda South Shields and Boldon, Raes Bakery, Crown Bingo, South Shields florist, Halo Hair, Remix, Kovo and Diamond Hair, Tavistock, Hoopers Fruit and Veg, Gala Bingo, Ak’s takeaway, Northern Glory Tattoo, Rowntrees and the Cleadon Club.

Cancer Connections in Harton Lane provides help and support to people diagnosed with cancer and their families.

The charity relies on donations and fundraising events to help keep its services running including its telephone support and drop-in services.