Working as a paralegal in the industrial disease team at Slater and Gordon means I get to do some pretty exciting things and meet some wonderful people. The CARDS monthly meeting wasn’t what I expected at all.
On 19 January 2016 I attended my first Cumbria Asbestos-Related Disease Support Group (CARDS) monthly meeting in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria and I can tell you, it was definitely worth the travel. I was accompanied by Principal Lawyer Helen Wilson who has long been attending the monthly CARDS meetings. It was brilliant for me to chat to a colleague who had such broad knowledge and a clear passion for helping people suffering from asbestos-related diseases.
What Did the CARDS Meeting Involve?
The first half of the two-hour meeting is focused on the people suffering from an asbestos-related disease, their families and anyone who cares for them.
Slater and Gordon are sponsors of CARDS and it’s easy to see why. The first hour of the meeting is dedicated to making people feel comfortable and offering them the support and advice that they may need. The meetings usually have a question and answer session with the charities’ founders and there is a state benefit professional there to offer advice to anyone suffering from an asbestos-related disease. The second hour of the meeting was our opportunity to speak to the people in attendance and offer them advice about potential asbestos compensation claims that may arise from their diagnosis.
We were immediately welcomed with warm smiles and hot beverages to warm us from the winter weather outside. We were led to a table where a gentleman and his wife were sat having a cup of tea. Sadly, the gentleman was diagnosed with mesothelioma the previous week. The gentleman had never attended a CARDS meeting before, having only been made aware of it following his diagnosis. However, the atmosphere was welcoming and it felt like we were meeting a group of friends. We managed to have a talk with the gentleman and his wife and take some initial details about a potential claim against his previous employers for his exposure to asbestos. Having the opportunity to sit with this gentleman in a setting where he felt welcomed and supported was wonderful.
Slater and Gordon support CARDS for just that reason. Speaking to a legal professional can be a daunting experience. It was clear to see that attending the CARDS meeting had given this gentleman some support with his upsetting diagnosis. CARDS offers sufferers the opportunity to get all the advice and support that they need free of charge and in an environment where others understand what you are going through. I was proud to say that I worked for a company that offered support to such a worthwhile charity.
Once we had finished chatting to the gentleman, he left – he had already been given the advice and support he needed regarding the state benefits by CARDS’ dedicated adviser. The CARDS meeting offered that gentleman the opportunity to get both legal and benefits advice all in the same room over a cup of tea.
Though the meetings are small, they are personal. It was easy to see that every member of the charity is cared for and that support is offered. Barrow-in-Furness is a long way to travel to, but it is completely worth the journey. The CARDS group may be much smaller than other asbestos-related disease support groups, but I am proud to work for a company that supports a charity that is a comfort to people in what can be one of the most difficult times of their lives. The fact that we went all that way to attend the CARDS meeting was proof of Slater and Gordon’s dedication to working with others in the community, no matter how small that community may be.
If you were unable to attend the event and have a legal question or query regarding mesothelioma or asbestos, call the expert chest and asbestos disease team at Slater and Gordon Lawyers on 0800 844 0275 or contact us online.