A WELFARE benefits service in West Dunbartonshire has received more than £308,000 of funding from a cancer charity.

West Dunbartonshire Council's Macmillan Benefits and Financial Inclusion Team have received the funding from Macmillan Cancer Support to provide much needed financial support to help people with cancer cope with the huge financial pressures many face as a result of the illness.

The charity has also been working hard to increase availability of grants for people with cancer.

Last year, Macmillan Cancer Support provided more than £47,000 in grants to 131 cancer patients in West Dunbartonshire to help pay for essentials, ranging from gas and electric bills to transport for hospital appointments.

Paramedic James, 52, who has been supported by the service, said: “About a year ago I noticed some unusual red marks appear on my skin. I didn’t take much notice but then lumps also started appearing so I thought I better get it checked out.

"I had no other symptoms, other than a little tiredness, so I wasn’t concerned either. More and more appeared though so I went back to my doctor and was referred to the hospital.

"After investigations I was told I had Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It was in 32 different areas of my body, including my hands and feet, and also in my lymphatic system.

“I went into hospital for intensive chemotheraphy treatment which took five months. I was given full pay for six months. However, after six months my pay halved.

"With my mortgage and car payments to cover, I was beginning to worry. When I was in hospital I noticed the Macmillan Centre and dropped in one day. I wasn’t going into ask about financial issues but I was introduced to one of the benefits advisors from West Dunbartonshire team.

"They advised me what I was entitled to and I can’t tell you what a weight it took off my mind. It turned a scary situation into a much more manageable one. My half salary would cover my mortgage and car payments but it would leave us with nothing else, literally not a penny, so it meant I could feed my family.”

Councillor Gurpreet Singh Johal, convener of housing and communities at West Dunbartonshire Council, said: “People living with cancer have been particularly hit with the cost-of-living crisis and we know it is impacting all aspects of their life.

"No-one who has a life-threatening illness should have to worry about how to pay their bills or cover the costs of getting to hospital, but every day we hear from people facing these choices.

“Cancer comes with lots of unexpected costs and often a loss in income. For those who have never tried to navigate the benefits system before, it can feel like a maze, especially when someone is going through gruelling treatment or struggling to deal with the emotional impact of a cancer diagnosis.

“We want everyone with cancer to know we’re here to help make sure they get access to all the money they’re entitled to. I’d urge anyone with cancer to get in touch and see how the service can help.”

For information, support or someone to talk to, call 0808 808 00 00 or visit macmillan.org.uk.