When their father, Dave Salisbury, died from mesothelioma, sisters Diane McLellan and Lynne Squibb of Hampshire, U.K., were suddenly confronted with numerous legal issues, which included endless forms and other complications–all of this on top of their grief.
The sisters turned their grief into action by setting up a support group for those who had also been affected by asbestos-related diseases. It began late in 2006 as an informal coffee klatch, but eventually became a full-time occupation. Today, the Hampshire Asbestos Support and Awareness Group (HASAG) holds events for asbestos victims and their families on a regular basis. In addition, Diane and Lynne visit the homes of asbestos disease patients, providing direct support.
Diane says: “It is amazing how far we have come in 14 months… when our dad died we had no idea how much paperwork was involved and all the procedures with mesothelioma and the compensation forms… we were drowning in information and it was really good to have someone to talk to who knew what we were going through.” Today, HASAG has been registered and is now officially recognized as a charitable organization by the U.K. government (similar to the U.S.’s non-profit corporations [501c]).
In addition to home visits and monthly support meetings, the group provides information on asbestos diseases, and a legal representative gives advice on benefits and compensation claims, all free of charge. HASAG has received substantial coverage in the British media, where industrial workers suffer from mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases at a greater rate than in the U.S.–particularly on Great Britain’s heavily industrialized south coast, which is long been home to that nation’s shipbuilding industry. In the U.S., those who are similarly affected by asbestos illness can turn to the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), which shares many things in common with HASAG. Like the U.K. group, the California-based ADAO was founded by asbestos victims and their families, and provides many of the same services.