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Colchester launches new benefits advice service and receives AQS award

Reissued: 6 October 2017

Staff at Essex Macmillan Benefits Advice Service are celebrating today for successfully passing the Advice Quality Standard (AQS), a nationally recognised quality mark for organisations providing free, independent advice to members of the public. 

Macmillan Cancer Support works in partnership with Colchester Borough Council to ensure people diagnosed with cancer, their families, and carers across Essex can access financial support.

Now, cancer patients visiting Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust can access advice on issues such as debt, housing, and employment. 

Research from Macmillan shows that four in five (83%) people with cancer are on average £570 a month worse off because of their diagnosis.[i]

"During cancer, additional costs such as travel to hospital appointments, increased heating bills and parking charges all mount up," Sheona Siewertsen, Macmillan Partnership Manager for Essex, explained.

"People face a significant loss of household income because they may be too unwell to work. Family members may also have to take unpaid leave to care for them.

Sheona added: "Our Essex Macmillan Welfare Benefits Service ensures patients can access welfare benefits advice at the right time."

Councillor Tina Bourne, Portfolio Holder for Housing and Communities at Colchester Borough Council said: "I am delighted that our Macmillan Welfare Benefits staff have been awarded AQS status. Our staff do an incredible job providing free, independent advice to those affected by cancer to ensure they have access to any welfare benefits they are entitled to during this very difficult time.

"I'm incredibly proud of the team and I'm thrilled that the amazing work that they do has been recognised by this award."

People can drop in to see the Essex Macmillan Welfare Benefits Advisors at Colchester Hospital University on Tuesdays between 10am and 3.30pm.

To contact the Essex Macmillan Welfare Benefits Service please call 0800 019 6003/6065, (Monday to Friday, 9am - 4pm).