CANCER patients in Hillingdon are being urged to seek help as a charity warns of a loneliness epidemic.

New research by Macmillan Cancer Support revealed that about 850 people in the borough feel they have no-one to talk to about their worries because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Macmillan is worried about the extra emotional burden for people with cancer, many of whom have been isolating since March last year, some receiving diagnoses and bad news without friends or family around them.

Stars including actor Daisy Edgar-Jones and Joanna Lumley have joined forces to tell people to contact the charity for help.

In a video, they urge cancer patients and their families to get in touch with Macmillan rather than suffer in silence.

Macmillan hopes its free support line, staffed by trained nurses and advisers, can play a key role in helping to ease some of the pressure on overstretched NHS staff.

There has been a 55% increase in the number of people contacting the helpline for the first time about pain and symptom management over the past six months, compared with the same time last year.

Patients and their loved ones can contact Macmillan’s phoneline every day of the week on 0808 808 00 00 (8am-8pm).

Additional emotional support is available through the charity’s ‘Telephone Buddies’ scheme – an eight-week support for people with cancer who may be isolated from loved ones.

Peer-to-peer support is available 24 hours a day on its Online Community, an online forum with over 90,000 members.