Monthly Archives: May 2017

Action Mesothelioma Day Friday 7th July 2017

Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer caused by asbestos.  Every year on Action Mesothelioma Day, groups like ours raise money for mesothelioma research, and meet to campaign for justice for asbestos victims and their families.

This year Action Mesothelioma Day will be on Friday 7th July.

We will be meeting at Sackville Gardens in Manchester at 12.30pm to release doves in memory of those of have died from mesothelioma. This will be followed by a public meeting at the Mechanics Institute (103 Princess Street, Manchester, M1 6DD) at 1pm. The meeting will be addressed by Sir Anthony Newman-Taylor of the National Mesothelioma Research Centre.

Any money we raise for Action Mesothelioma Day this year will be going to the June Hancock Mesothelioma Research Fund. To donate, please click here.

Further details for this event can be found in the following PDF leaflet: AMD 2017

Living Well with Mesothelioma Support Group – 1.30 – 3.30 pm Monday 8th May

This month’s meeting is being held on May 8th (second Monday of the month) because of the bank holiday. As usual we will meet in the Collier Room, Methodist Central Hall, Oldham Street, Manchester M1 1JQ. These meetings are open to all people living with mesothelioma, carers and family members.

Our speaker this month is Alessandro Pugno, a film-maker and member of AFEVA, the Italian national asbestos victims group. Alessandro was born and raised in a small town called Casale Monferrato. The main employer in this town was a company called Eternit, a giant multi-national asbestos company. Because of the activities of this company, thousands of people from this small town have developed mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases, including many who never worked at the factory who were exposed to asbestos fibres in the environment and from their loved ones’ workclothes.                                                     

Local people have fought for years for justice and restitution. Company directors have been prosecuted but have so far wriggled free on technicalities. Similar campaigns have been waged against Eternit in Belgium, Switzerland, France and Asia. Campaigners have vowed to continue the campaign until the perpetrators have been brought to justice.

This is an inspiring story and will be a good meeting so we hope people can make it.

Keep Phoenix House benefits office open!

Phoenix House in Barrow, Cumbria has been earmarked for closure in March 2018 by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Phoenix House is a specialist benefits office that deals with all Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) claims for people diagnosed with mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases throughout the country.

If the closure goes ahead it will be a blow for mesothelioma sufferers who benefit greatly from the expertise that has been built up over many years by the DWP staff based in this office. In addition to IIDB claims, staff at Phoenix process linked benefits such as Constant Attendance Allowance, Exceptionally Severe Disablement Allowance and lump sums paid under the Pneumoconiosis (Workers’ Compensation) Act 1979 and 2008 Mesothelioma Scheme.

This is a niche area of the benefits system with complex benefit rules and a vulnerable client group, many of whom are elderly and have been newly diagnosed with a terminal illness. They need to be sure their claims will be dealt with sensitively and efficiently. Staff at Phoenix House tick all these boxes. Advice workers can reassure mesothelioma patients that the benefits to which they are entitled will be processed and paid within two to three weeks in nearly all cases.

The 70 workers in Phoenix House have built up a huge amount of expertise in these specialist benefits over many years. If the office closes the most likely result would be a deterioration in service, longer delays in processing benefit claims and increased uncertainty for mesothelioma patients. Forum groups have developed an excellent working relationship with staff at Phoenix House and the people we help have benefitted greatly from their expertise and empathy.

The Asbestos Victims Support Groups’ Forum UK fully supports the Phoenix House workers in their campaign to keep this office open. We have sent an open letter to the Secretary of State for Work & Pensions which has been supported by all the main charities and support groups working with victims of asbestos diseases, along with people living with mesothelioma, bereaved family members, doctors and lawyers.

We are now in the middle of a General Election campaign. There will be a new Government and new Ministers after June. We intend to keep the pressure on to keep Phoenix House open after the election and will resend the open letter so that the new Government Ministers are left in no doubt about our total opposition to the closure of this office. If you would like to add your support for this open letter, please contact the Forum at asbestos.mcr@gmail.com

You can also support this campaign by signing the online petition here.