David Trip on Friday gave us a really great speech so I have added today the extra info that was given to us of a wonderful Support Group that i would like to see here in the East of Kent.
DAST was set up in 2002 by the Trade Union Safety Team (Trust), where Joanne was Assistant Co-ordinator. Trust had been helping people who were suffering from an industrial injury or illness. It was noted that more and more people were suffering from industrial disease connected to asbestos, so it was decided to set up a separate organisation just for them.
Trust applied for a development grant from Macmillan Cancer Support – and was awarded this money for 5 years from 2007 – 2012. This allowed DAST to employ a welfare rights worker (Natalie Woodward) to go around the area, visiting people in their homes and helping them to claim their financial entitlements. Joanne became the Co-ordinator of the now registered charity.
Over the next 5 years, more and more people were being diagnosed and Joanne and Natalie were dealing with a steadily increasing number of cases. More resources were needed.
When the Macmillan development grant ended, I was seconded into the organisation after working alongside them from the beginning in their sister organisation – DUWC. I was asked to help diversify income to meet the demands and fill the gap left by the end of the Macmillan money. I have been applying for grants from a range of funding bodies as well as finding new ways to raise unrestricted funds.
Our latest success has been a 3 year grant from the Big Lottery Fund, enabling us to launch a bereavement support service. We noticed that many people came to us for help after losing their loved ones to Mesothelioma, but up until now we didn’t have the resources to give them proper support. However, on 20 July Jo Reeve will join the organisation for 3 years and she will be setting up a befriending service as well as giving initial bereavement advice.
In terms of asbestos awareness, we are proud of our successful Asbestos in the Home Awareness Project, which was funded by Awards For All and Garfield Weston Foundation among many others. We are now looking at raising awareness of asbestos in schools and we are currently seeking funding to do this.
We have also launched a new fund raising event called Walk a Mile for Mesothelioma. We are encouraging people to do a sponsored 1 mile walk in their local area on the first weekend in September. We hope that this will raise the profile of DAST as well as raising money. As this is a gentle stroll, we hope that asbestos sufferers can take part themselves – gentle exercise is encouraged. One Mesothelioma sufferer shocked us all last year by walking 7 miles!
We have ongoing support from our Solicitors – Thompsons, Graysons and OH Parsons as well as several trade unions including UCATT, Unite and the GMB.