New help group for asbestosis families

ASBESTOS is a voracious killer leaving victims bewildered and unsure of where to turn.But now a self-help group has been set up for sufferers and their families in Ipswich to give them moral support and to help them through the jungle of benefits claims and compensation.

By Jessica Nicholls

ASBESTOS is a voracious killer leaving victims bewildered and unsure of where to turn.

But now a self-help group has been set up for sufferers and their families in Ipswich to give them moral support and to help them through the jungle of benefits claims and compensation.

Asbestos and Respiratory Industrial Diseases Association Limited (ARID) is a registered charity that has been running in Norwich for the last seven years.


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Andrew Davidson, who set up the charity, said: "People with Asbestos and respiratory industrial diseases are victims twice over.

"Once when they are told they have the disease and the second time when they try and claim benefits and compensation."

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He said that victims often face piles of forms inches thick to fill out to claim benefits they are entitled to.

Mr Davidson said: "When you have just been told that you have got asbestosis or mesothelioma you are not in the frame of mind to do that."

Part of the work done by ARID is to help victims try and identify what caused the illness.

A lot of research goes into their work, helping people to track down where they could have come into contact with asbestos.

Although claiming compensation from companies is now easier, there are still many pitfalls and ARID is campaigning to change legislation further.

Currently the standard time bar to claim is three years from diagnosis but this can often be hampered.

Mr Davidson said: "Asbestosis can take up to 30 or 50 years to manifest itself.

"An X-ray can be taken and pleural plaques or fibrosis can be found but this does not mean it is going to turn into asbestosis so the doctor might say that you are ok.

"But if it does turn into that and you try and claim, the insurance companies and the government can turn round and say that you knew about it seven years ago and say that you are out of time."

Numbers of people suffering with asbestos-related diseases are not expected to peak until 2020 but already there are hundreds of thousands of people who have been affected by it.

The Evening Star has campaigned for rights for victims of asbestosis, first in the 1980s when Cliff Quay power station in Ipswich was demolished and again in 1997 with our Silent Disaster campaign.

Often thought of as an old man's disease, Mr Davidson said there are now much younger men coming forward and also more and more women are getting it.

He said: "A few years ago I would get one or two women a year come to me.

"Now I can get that many in just a week."

The charity is also there to offer moral support to people, especially partners of victims.

They can also assess needs for social services care such as special equipment.

Anyone who wants to contact the helpline should call on 0845 123 2944.

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