Newcastle’s City Centre hosted the final stop for a national roadshow highlighting the devastating affects of asbestos exposure and to warn of the risks.
The National Asbestos Helpline (NAH) ended a week-long UK tour by parking its bus in Grainger Street on Saturday (July 17) where more than 200 people stopped to access advice and support.
Newcastle was chosen as the climax to the national roadshow because Tyne & Wear has one of the UK’s highest mortality rates for mesothelioma, which in almost all cases is caused by asbestos exposure.
Within the next five years the number of people diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease is expected to escalate because of the 15-to-50 year delay between exposure and the development of symptoms.
Alan Sanderson, from Gateshead, was exposed to asbestos during his 47 years in the building trade. He was diagnosed with the related condition of pleural plaques last year on his birthday.
Alan, 78, said: “I came out of the doctors after being told the diagnosis and thought, what do I do now? I didn’t know anything about the condition and there was nobody to turn to.
“I’m so pleased to have seen the roadshow today. It’s just having someone to talk to and to ask if I’m being treated right.”
Alan visits his daughter every year in South Africa but after being diagnosed with an asbestos-related condition his travel insurance jumped from £400 to £1,800 – more than the cost of the flight! The roadshow was able to put Alan in touch with the British Lung Foundation (BLF) who can give him advice and information on travelling abroad so he could continue to see his daughter.
Chi Onwurah, MP for Newcastle Central, visited the roadshow and was particularly concerned about the future risk of asbestos exposure.
She said: “The North East’s great industrial heritage unfortunately means that we have many people who have worked closely with asbestos but also today many homes, hospitals and schools buildings may still contained asbestos.
“It’s absolutely essential that people are aware of the potential risks and we try to prevent further cases of asbestos related diseases in Newcastle.”
Richard Clarke, from the National Asbestos Helpline, says: “Many people’s lives in the North East have been effected by this devastating industrial legacy and, even today, there is still a risk of exposure. We really hope the roadshow raises awareness of the dangers and provides essential help to patients and their families.
“We’re also very grateful to have the assistance of the British Lung Foundation during our roadshow. In turn we are committed to supporting this vital charity in its work to improve treatment, care and support for people affected by mesothelioma and other asbestos related lung diseases.”
From the NAH bus passers-by could access free information about asbestos-related diseases, legal advice and vital support services. The British Lung Foundation was also on hand to provide advice and support and information from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was made available.
The National Asbestos Helpline is a leading service for asbestos-related disease civil claims and state entitlement benefit. The NAH also provides access to advice and support to the thousands of sufferers and carers affected.
For more information call 0800 043 6635 or visit nationalasbestos.co.uk.
The NAH is supporting the BLF to help raise awareness of asbestos-related diseases across the UK and has chosen the organisation as its charity of the year.
To learn more about the invaluable work of the BLF visit lunguk.org or call the helpline 08458 50 50 20.