Macmillan pays out more than £130,000 in patient grants to help people living with cancer in and around Derry.
Last year the Macmillan paid out more than £130,000 to around 450 cancer patients in County Derry and almost £660,000 across Northern Ireland as a whole.
Almost two thirds of the grants were used toward the cost of fuel bills as Northern Ireland currently has the highest level of fuel poverty in the UK. This has resulted in a disproportionate number of cancer patients needing financial help to cover heating bills which amounted to over £410,000 in 2014. All other purposes of the grants collectively still did not add up to the cost of fuel, including hospital fares, clothing, furniture, beds and bedding.
Research by Macmillan has found that three out of four people in Northern Ireland find themselves nearly £300 a month worse off as a result of a cancer diagnosis, due to their reduced incomes and increased expenses.
According to a breakdown of the figures for Northern Ireland, the majority of people seeking and receiving financial assistance from Macmillan in 2014 were of working age. More than 500 were aged 55–64, and a further 400 were aged 45-54. The highest numbers of those seeking financial assistance were between 55 and 65.
Paula Kealey, senior development manager with Macmillan Cancer Support in Northern Ireland, says: “These figures show that cancer patients are clearly in desperate need of financial support.
“A cancer diagnosis can stop people working, which means that – all of a sudden - they can find themselves living on a vastly reduced
income, whilst having to deal with an increase in outgoings.
Cancer patients need to put their energy into getting better. Instead, many are living in cold homes, anxious about how they’re going to cope financially.”
If you, or your family, are worried about paying fuel bills, or need other financial help as a result of cancer, please call 0808 808 0000 or visit www.macmillan.org.uk