Unions in the North-East help asbestos victims receive £2.7m

A total of £2.7 million has been secured for asbestos victims and their families in the North East and North Cumbria. The Northern TUC Asbestos Support and Campaign Group (ASCG) was launched in 2010 and has helped its clients claim the money during the past 12 months, which includes benefit gains and compensation.

The final figure, split among 170 people, represents a rise of more than £965,000 from the previous year.

The group, a partnership between Northern TUC, Macmillan Cancer Support, trade unions and West View Resource and Advice Centre, provides support, advice and information (including help with benefit entitlements) to people living with the effects of asbestos exposure, their families and carers.

People helped by the group have asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer and other workplace cancers. Val Evens, Manager of West View Advice and Resource Centre Limited, said:

“We welcome the opportunity to extend our services and partnerships to incorporate the Northern TUC and the Macmillan welfare rights officer. We know that through working together with our partners we will ensure this valuable service continues helping people suffering from industrial cancers right across the north east.”

Beth Farhat, Northern TUC Regional Secretary said:

“Results like these are amazing and highlight the need for groups like the ASCG. Unfortunately, the legacy of asbestos is going to be with us for some time to come so it is imperative that there is free access to good quality, easily accessible support and guidance for those who need it.

We are also looking to develop this area of work further and widen the scope of the group to help even more people – taking the service directly into workplaces, briefing and training union Reps.”

Around 13,000 deaths each year from work-related lung disease and cancer are estimated to be attributed to past exposure, primarily to chemicals and dust at work. Most of these diseases take many years to develop and so deaths occurring now are largely a result of past workplace conditions.

Current estimates (based on 2005 data) suggest there are at least 8,000 work-related cancer deaths each year in Great Britain. More than half of these cancer deaths were caused by past exposures to asbestos (either mesothelioma or asbestos-related lung cancer).

Contact the Northern TUC Asbestos Support and Campaign Group on 01429 271294, via email at reception@wvarc30.org.uk or visit the website here.