Like thousands of people out there, I could hardly pronounce mesothelioma, never mind know what it was! Yes, I knew asbestos was a dangerous material but not exactly why and the devastation it could cause! It wasn’t something that affected me or my family, or so I thought…
Was it ironic finding myself in a new role as asbestos support worker for a new charity that my own father was then diagnosed with an asbestos related condition? But wait, once I asked around, nearly everyone knew of someone who had been affected, even if it was a friend of a friend. Why was this not publicised? Why were people not shouting from the rooftops?
My previous roles of working with benefits, being a Samaritan, supporting a cancer centre and running a charity led me to my new position, but little did I know how awful this disease was!
Hardworking ordinary people who went out to make a living and provide for their families were being robbed of their health and, in a lot of cases, were dying long before their time. I was told my main task was to ensure that they were in receipt of all the appropriate benefits and mesothelioma compensation, but in reality this was the last thing on the minds of the sufferers and their families. Yes, it would ease the burden of additional expenditure caused by numerous hospital visits, car parking, additional heating and food and having to pay for services, but what people were crying out for was a listening ear and understanding.
My role took on a different emphasis, one of supporting sufferers and their families through the rollercoaster of emotions; the shock of diagnosis, the worry of what was going to happen, the anger that this had been allowed to happen to them, the resignation of wanting to do the best for their families. I had to develop new skills including a strength which I didn’t know I had. I even walked dogs, drove people to hospital and brought in essential provisions.
So, when people ask me why I chose to be an asbestos support worker, I can’t think of a more rewarding role to be in. Today I am lucky, tomorrow it could be me. It could be any one of us. This country still has hundreds of thousands of tons of asbestos in public buildings which we frequent every day.
Recently relocating to a different part of the country, I wanted to continue my role but couldn’t see how. Slater and Gordon Lawyers found a way. They recognised the importance of supporting their clients emotionally and practically at such a difficult time and now I am able to support not only their clients, but others who come my way who don’t have help from a local asbestos support group.
Clients are surprised that this level of service is available via a lawyer, but it’s the way forward.
Alison Blake is Slater and Gordon’s Asbestos Support Worker.
Read more of Alison’s blogs about her experiences at mesothelioma patient and carer days beginning here.
If you require legal advice or support 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.