L-R: Pauline Latham, MP for Derbyshire, Jacci Woodcock, Phil Shreeve, Treetops Hospice Care Director of Clinical Services
A woman with a terminal condition is choosing to spend the last few months of her life campaigning for businesses to provide greater security for terminally ill workers so they cannot be dismissed as a result of their condition.
Jacci Woodcock, 60, was forced out of her job as an area sales manager three years ago after being diagnosed with terminal breast cancer.
With the support of her Union and her local MP, Pauline Latham, Jacci started the Dying to Work campaign, which has since seen hundreds of employers nationwide sign up to its voluntary charter to prevent cases like Jacci’s happening in the future.
“When I found myself in the position of being told I was terminally ill, I carried on working – it never entered my head not to carry on working – and then work started to put pressure on me to resign.
“So I got my Union involved with my work situation and also personally went to my MP, Pauline, to say can you help me with this campaign? We are all doing our bit and working together and it is going very successfully.”
Jacci has now chosen to stop her medical treatment and is accessing the services of her local hospice, Treetops Hospice Care.
“I am not afraid to talk about death because I have already planned my funeral, done my will and so on.
“I have been attending the Well-being Days and have really enjoyed coming here and meeting other people. I am also looking at my end of life plan because I want to die at home so that is the reason I have tapped into the services of Treetops, as my local hospice.
“I am not taking any more treatment and I want to die with dignity. I am choosing quality over quantity. Treetops will become very important to me in the end.”
Jacci is very frank about what she wants businesses, especially smaller and medium enterprises, to do:
“If I had been supported properly, I probably would still be working until now.
“Not everyone who has a terminal diagnosis leaves work. Some people work until they die. I never had a day off whilst at work. It is incredibly important to be the person you are.
“I have worked too hard at this campaign and I do not want anyone else to go through so much stress that I had to go through.
“My message to businesses reading this is to tell me why you are not signing up? By not signing, you are sending a message that you do not value your workers.
“And for employees reading this - maybe tomorrow this could happen to you and would you not want to know that the law – and your employer – are looking after you?”
Pauline Latham, MP for Derbyshire, said:
“Lots of firms are coming on board and I have also got a number of MPs to sign up to it as well as we are all employers. We might not have a huge number of employees but it is all about getting the message out to people.
“If you do it already as a business, what is the harm in signing?”
Since its launch in April 2016, the Dying to Work Voluntary Charter now protects over half a million employees with larger companies such as Rolls Royce, Severn Trent Water, Royal Mail and E.On signing up. A number of public sector bodies including NHS trusts, the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Services and Derbyshire County Council have also signed up, along with charitable organisations including Treetops Hospice Care. Hospice UK signed the charter in February 2017.
Signing the Dying to Work Charter is one part of a wider ‘Compassionate Communities’ project which Treetops is leading locally. Funded by Derby County Council, the project aims to normalise death and dying and help people make more informed choices at the end of life. It is encouraging businesses to sign up to the Charter and consider how they, as employers, support someone who is diagnosed with a life limiting condition as well as supporting their colleagues.
For more information visit Dying to Work