Relieving the financial stress that cancer brings – Q&A with Geraldine Johnson

Wednesday 05 January 2022

Geraldine Johnson, Benefits Advisor at Maggie’s Oldham, talks about her role and how she can relieve some of the financial stress that cancer brings.

Why did you join Maggie’s?

I joined because I like helping people.

Cancer causes significant financial hardship. I wanted to be able to put things in place so that people with cancer can focus on their treatment and recovery.

I see my role as helping to take the strain off them.

Where were you working before?

I was a Healthy Homes Officer for a housing association in Oldham.

I was visiting people who were in the process of getting their pensions.

My role was to provide financial, emotional and practical support to enable individuals to live independently in their own home, to lead a better quality of life and avoid hospitalisations.

How did that experience help you with what you’re doing now?

It gave me really good insight into working with people in difficult circumstances, and helping them towards a better quality of life.

What do you enjoy about your role at Maggie’s?

It’s wonderful to help put a smile on people’s faces and to see positive outcomes.

I supported a man recently who had been in treatment and had been homeless for two years.

I worked with one of his nurses at the hospital to write a letter on his behalf. We put in an application and got him a bungalow, with a home starter kit worth over £200.

We secured Personal Independence Payments for him, all the benefits he was entitled to, and a grant. He went from his first visit to us, to a new home, in just six weeks.

It’s so rewarding to work in a job that allows you to support people in that way.

What do people notice when they come into the centre?

Everyone loves the space, but many people are amazed by the beautiful tree in the centre of the building – the tree of life, we call it.

It’s a lovely atmosphere with its colours, and it is very therapeutic and relaxing.

What makes Maggie’s different?

It’s the fact there are cancer support specialists, psychologists, and benefits advisors all under the same roof.

People feel safe, comforted and supported here. We’re able to help them at every stage for as long as they need us.

We’re a tight-knit team; we’ve all got different areas of expertise but we’re all in one place to offer whatever help is needed, whenever it is needed.

You also don’t have to talk if you don’t feel like it: it’s just a nice space to sit and collect your thoughts.

And what’s your favourite space in the centre?

I like the view out of the big window. You can see all the houses in front of you, and the hills in the distance, with their wind turbines and trees.

It’s just really peaceful.

We can help with money worries

Your gift could help pay for a benefits advisor like Geraldine to ease money worries and help people with cancer access benefits and financial support.

Make a donation today

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