Since September 2012, Advice Workers from the Northern TUC Asbestos Support and Campaign Group have secured nearly one third of a million pounds (£311,643.00) in one-off compensation payments for asbestos victims in the northern region. In addition to this, they have also facilitated payment of welfare benefits in excess of £105,000 per month for victims and their families. The recipients of the funds are suffering from a range of debilitating asbestos-related diseases including Mesothelioma, Asbestosis and Lung cancer.
The Group is a partnership between the Northern TUC, Macmillan Cancer Support, regional trade unions and Wallsend Memorial Hall and People's Centre, with the primary function of offering support, advice and information (including help with benefit claims) to people living with the effects of asbestos poisoning. It employs two dedicated members of staff, Maggie Fitzsimons, Support Worker and Maggie Bailey, Macmillan Welfare Rights Adviser.
Working out of the Wallsend Memorial Hall and People's Centre in North Tyneside, they cover the whole northern region, from Northumberland to Tees Valley and over to north Cumbria. Established relationships with Health professionals, trade unions, law firms, Macmillan and Welfare Rights staff ensure a comprehensive and personal service for sufferers.
The benefits accrued are comprised of several areas, with the majority from the Workers' Compensation Scheme and Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, supplemented by Attendance Allowances and Carers Allowance to help fund necessary day-to-day care.
Kevin Rowan, Northern TUC Regional Secretary said, 'This is a huge, life-changing amount of money going to help the people who need it most, and as an added benefit it will be recycled into the local economy providing a win-win situation for the welfare of workers and the region as a whole.'
Stephen Guy, Macmillan Development Manager for North East said: "The expertise now available to Asbestos and Mesothelioma victims from within this initiative is evident from the recent successes. It is only correct that people who have suffered have their right to state benefits and compensation protected and maximised. This joint venture delivers."
Maggie Bailey, Macmillan Welfare Rights Adviser said: "Research carried out by Macmillan shows that people affected by cancer are often unaware of the benefits they can claim and at the time of diagnosis need help to guide them through a complex welfare system. We visit people in their homes and help them with the forms and give advice. We can also give them information about other Macmillan services and support groups."