Money worries: when you're a parent with cancer

Wednesday 25 November 2020

Dermot Coyle, a Benefits Advisor for Maggie's, writes about the impact money worries can have when a parent has cancer and how we can help.

For many parents, worries about their cancer are made worse by worries about their finances. What if I can’t work? What if my treatment lasts longer than my sick pay entitlement? How will this impact my children? This can cause huge amounts of stress for parents. 

Understandably, protecting children from the effects of cancer is a priority and parents can be more concerned with limiting the disruption to their children’s lives than they are with the effects on their own.

This can be where a drop in household income can have a huge impact. Clothes, shoes, birthdays, sports and leisure activities, not to mention Christmas or other celebrations are but a few of the things that need to be paid for.

And then there are the unforeseen or unexpected extra costs. A child who leaves their jacket on a bus, a school jumper ripped while climbing over a wall. My own son once even managed to lose a shoe that he was wearing! 

The estimated average cost of bringing a child up ranges between £71,611 for a couple* and £97,862 for a single parent*, not including housing and childcare. Kids aren’t cheap! 

Which is why concerns about money are often one of the main factors bringing people to Maggie’s for the first time.

How we can help

At Maggie’s, a Benefits Advisor will sit down with you and work out the best course of action to maximise your household income. Often this will be identifying possible benefit entitlements and then helping you with making a claim.

We work with parents, appealing unfavourable decisions and representing them at benefits tribunals if needed.

There are also grants that can be applied for in certain situations and budgeting help that can be given. Debts can be renegotiated with creditors and we can source advice on employment issues.

We also support people with their worries about job security and returning work. 

Our aim

Our main aim is to get as much money as possible into the household to try and minimise the financial stress on a family at a very difficult time.

This can mean the difference between worrying about meeting basic needs and being able to fully participate in family life, trips to the cinema, birthday cakes and being able to replace that lost shoe. 

We know the impact on children of a parent with cancer is profound but removing anxiety about money maximises children’s natural resilience.

Children are remarkably resilient and understanding. They often know more than we realise and appreciate the small things that we are able to give.

It’s a real privilege to be able to work with families to alleviate their money worries, giving them more emotional space to cope with the cancer diagnosis they are facing. 

How to get support with money worries

At the moment we can support you face-to-face in a centre or over the phone or via email.

Get in touch with your nearest centre to arrange to speak to one of our Benefits Advisors.



* Figures taken from The Cost of a Child in 2020 published by Child Poverty Action Group in October 2020

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