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Highland cancer charity team nominated for work tackling Universal Credit problems

By Federica Stefani

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A Highland based advice team for people with cancer is among the finalists for a UK-wide charity award.

The Macmillan Highland Citizens Advice Bureau Partnership team at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness has been nominated by colleagues for a Macmillan Professionals Excellence award for the Quality Improvement Excellence category.

The awards recognise nominees and teams who have made significant improvements within an existing service offered to people living with cancer.

The team are based at Inverness' Raigmore Hospital.
The team are based at Inverness' Raigmore Hospital.

The team helps people with cancer offering financial advice to support them when they are too unwell to work, allowing them to focus their energy on their health and recovery.

The group aims to mitigate the impacts of Universal Credit, which they report to have left people waiting for more than a month to receive their benefit payment and led to hardship, stress and anxiety.

Macmillan welfare benefits service manager Elaine Donnelly said: “We just want Universal Credit to be properly administered and we want it to be fair.

"These are people’s lives we’re talking about, so we’re just going to keep on working hard to assist our clients and raise social policy issues in the hope that it will continue to improve the system. This isn’t over by a long stretch.”

The team have been campaigning about issues with Universal Credit locally and nationally, with local MP Drew Hendry setting up an All Party Parliamentary Group on terminal illness as a result.

To improve the quality of delivery of Universal Credit, the team partnered with their local Jobcentre to develop workarounds that get terminally ill people through the system more quickly.

This has subsequently been replicated throughout Scotland.

They offer assistance with a notebook to help people without computer access manage their Universal Credit online in the hospital or on home visits.

The eight edition of the annual awards ceremony will take place on November 7 in Birmingham, representing an opportunity for Macmillan to recognise and thank pioneering teams and individuals who deliver the highest standards of care for people living with cancer.

In 2018 more than 350 Macmillan professionals, as well as representatives from Macmillan and leading healthcare institutions attended the awards ceremony.

Those interested in contacting Macmillan Cancer Support for help, information or getting involved with fundraising can do so on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday to Friday, 9am–8pm) or visit macmillan.org.uk.

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