Hundreds of cancer patients across the north and north-east of Scotland received more than £85,000 worth of grants during the pandemic from a leading charity.
Macmillan gave out a total of around 330 one-off payments of £350 to help people living with cancer on low incomes get by in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Moray and the Highlands.
The cash was made available to ensure those dealing with the illness were able to better afford essentials like energy bills and travel to hospital appointments.
The charity explained that with a cancer diagnosis, patients can encounter potentially unforeseen costs, such as needing to keep the heating on at home more, or needing to get new clothes as a result of weight changes during treatment.
Janice Preston, the head of Macmillan in Scotland, said the charity was thankfully able to offer the support despite the significant drop in funding it has experienced as a result of the virus.
She said: “At a time they should be focusing on their health, too many people with cancer are thinking about how they’ll pay their rent or afford petrol to get to hospital.
“I’m pleased that despite the substantial drop in our income due to Covid, we were able to give grants to so many people in urgent need of help.
“As well as providing one-off grants, we can also help people claim all the government benefits they are entitled to, helping them cope with the longer term impact of cancer.
“I’d urge anyone with cancer who is struggling with the unexpected cost of cancer to contact Macmillan now.”
In the Highlands, more than 120 people received hardship grants from Macmillan, in Moray there were seven applicants, and across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire more than 200 people were given grants.
Across Scotland, the charity gave out £1.2 million in grants to almost 3,700 people to help them deal with the additional financial burdens of cancer.
Issy Fairclough, welfare rights case worker for the Macmillan Citizens Advice Bureau partnership in the Highlands, said the cash can be a “lifeline” to cancer patients, and a diagnosis can have a major impact on an individual’s finances.
She said: “Every day I see the difference a Macmillan grant can have on someone’s life.
“A cancer diagnosis has a profound effect on someone not just physically and emotionally but also financially.
“Going through treatment people can feel the cold a lot more and need the heating on all day, that cost mounts up.
“That’s where the Macmillan grant can really help and take some of that financial stress away – it can be a lifeline to a lot of people.
“Most aren’t aware of what help they’re entitled to.
“The grant is a one-off payment of £350 that helps with the extra costs a cancer diagnosis can bring.
“It can pay for new bedding and new clothes if that person has lost or gained weight due to treatment, and it can help pay for transport to hospital appointments.
“If you are struggling to meet the extra costs of cancer, I’d urge you to call Macmillan to see if you are eligible for a grant and the rest of the support on offer.
“Macmillan are only a phone call away and are waiting to help you.”
The charity is urging all political parties across Scotland ahead of May’s elections to back a new model of cancer support.
Macmillan believes that it is “vital everyone diagnosed with cancer is offered an assessment of their financial, emotional and practical needs, followed by high-quality support”.
A spokeswoman for Macmillan said: “The Scottish Government and Macmillan both pledged £9m to spread this support across the country, and the recent cancer recovery plan recognised its continued importance in a post-covid world.”
Anyone wishing to receive support from Macmillan, including the hardship grants can phone the charity on 0808 808 0000, or visit their website www.macmillan.org.uk