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In the first of its kind for a UK bank, Virgin Money has joined forces with Macmillan Cancer Support to launch Virgin Money Macmillan Guides – a bespoke support service for people living with or affected by cancer, with a pilot scheme starting today (Wednesday 31 March).

In their role as Macmillan Guides, selected customer-facing colleagues will be trained by Macmillan to help provide the best possible support to people affected by cancer. Colleagues will be trained to understand the individual issues these people may face, in order to enable and empower customers to take positive action. This could include helping people navigate the financial support available at Virgin Money, offering guidance about the variety of support available from Macmillan to help with wider concerns, signposting to local community groups, or simply being there to listen.

The initiative is launching at a time when Macmillan research[i] shows that over a quarter of a million people (270,000) with cancer in the UK (9%) feel they have no one to talk to about their worries because of the pandemic, and approaching one million (870,000; 29%) feel stressed, anxious or depressed because of Covid-19.

Macmillan found that around half a million people with cancer in the UK (16%) were experiencing some kind of financial impact from the pandemic in the run-up to the current national lockdown, and estimates that more than 100,000 people with cancer (4%) are struggling to pay for basic essentials such as food, bills, rent or their mortgage as a result of the impact of Covid-19[ii].

The Virgin Money Macmillan Guides will provide vital emotional support, information and signposting for further support to people in store, over the phone or via webchat, doing whatever it takes to make sure anyone with cancer can live life as fully as possible. The Guides will listen to customers, understand their needs and provide high-quality support tailored to individual circumstances. The support service aims to equip people with the information they need so they are empowered to address the many ways that cancer can affect your life.

Up to 50 colleagues from across the Virgin Money store and contact centre network will take part in an initial six-month pilot.

Peter Dockar, Head of Customer Value Management at Virgin Money, said: “Sadly many of us will have been touched by a cancer diagnosis, either personally or through a friend or family member and know it can have a devastating impact, not only physically but emotionally and financially. That is why we are working with Macmillan, our charity partner of the year, to launch the Macmillan Guide role, the first service of its kind offered by a UK bank, designed to support those customers living with or affected by cancer.

“As a bank one of our ambitions is to make a positive social and environmental impact. Macmillan Guide is innovative in its approach and the role of a Guide will see specially trained Virgin Money customer-facing colleagues use their position to help Macmillan provide the best possible expert support.

“Following the pilot – which we very much see a ‘test and learn’ opportunity – we will look to roll the Macmillan Guides initiative out across our whole network so together with Macmillan we can try to help as many customers as possible.”

Lynda Thomas, Chief Executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “Due to the impact of Covid-19 we know that this is the most worrying time in recent history to get a cancer diagnosis, and for many people receiving the life-changing news that you have cancer is nothing short of a financial wrecking-ball. That’s why we’re thrilled to launch the Macmillan Guide initiative with Virgin Money, a service that will provide vital emotional and financial support to people affected by cancer when they need it most.”

Macmillan Cancer Support is Virgin Money’s Charity of the Year. Macmillan and Virgin Money hope this partnership will help the charity reach its goal of being there for everyone facing cancer from day one of their diagnosis.

To find out more about the Macmillan Guides please click here Link opens in a new window.