Man sanctioned for a missed appointment last year.. That he didn’t receive. Inappropriate questioning by advisor. Don’t go to hospital, attend your appointment instead. Welcome to Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre.

Hello readers, and thank you for reading my blog. It always feels like Thursday comes round very quickly, and because Thursday mornings are usually very busy outside the Jobcentre thats entirely appropriate.

I’ll start with the weather, freezing cold, although not quite as cold as some other weeks and it wasn’t raining, brilliant that made a change both for us and the people having to use the Jobcentre. There’s nothing worse than being wet and cold and not having the ability to dry off.

I arrived at the Jobcentre and was almost immediately met by a lovely lady by the name of Vicky. She had travelled all the way from Salford, which is quite a distance away with some extra food parcels containing goodies such as fruit, UHT milk, margarine etc. Believe me when you have nothing these essentials become luxuries and you treasure them. Vicky was so lovely and chatted with everyone and made everyone wanting help feel at ease. Thank you Vicky so much.

I was then joined by Gordon with the food parcels, and later on Roy, who still isn’t feeling brilliant but he still came along to help people. We are all very dedicated and thank you roy.

 

The first person to ask for help was a woman and man whom I have mentioned in the previous blog. They are now getting support from a local organisation, and they are really benefiting from that, however they have now encountered another obstacle which has once again left them without money. She requested milk, and a food parcel, so we gave her both and she told me that she would keep in touch to keep me updated about their situation. The good news is that Shelter have helped her with a solicitor and the local organisation are also providing support. But even though the work that we all do is fantastic and is much needed, it shouldn’t distract from the fact that this should never have happened in the first place. I’m a great believer in social housing, and that everyone in need should have access to it. If we had adequate social housing then this would never have happened.

 

I spoke to a young man whom was shy to talk at first. I know how he feels, I would be also, but after some kind words from both myself and Vicky he opened up and told us his situation. His situation is this, he went to check his bank for his payment over Christmas and there was noting there, his bank account was empty. He managed to contact the DWP and they told him that they had decided to sanction him because they said that he had missed an appointment the PREVIOUS year. Yes folks, a year ago. He was adamant that he didnt miss an appointment, and I believe him. Why do I believe him? Because this happens a lot, far too often, and anyone who helps people like I do will tell you the same. It’s almost as if they have a sick and twisted lottery going on at DWP HQ, where they choose a person to be targeted like this. Being a young, single male with no dependants does increase his chances of winning this sick lottery and he was chosen.

He had no food over Christmas, and had to rely on the kindness of others. When I offered him some food, the first thing that he said to me was ‘I haven’t got any money, I can’t pay for this’. I told him that money isn’t needed, and tears ran down his face. He has promised to appeal this sanction, and I do feel that he stands a good chance of winning his appeal. He has also agreed to access other local organisations. At least he now has a  bit of hope, hope that he previously didn’t have, that the government had taken away from him. Its abhorrent that they continue to target individuals like this, but I will continue to fight against this evil system on behalf of those who can’t.

 

I spoke to a street homeless man, who’s tent had been slashed over the festive period. Why and how people can get kicks from targeting vulnerable people like this is beyond me, but they do. We had a short conversation, he finds it hard to trust people, and it’s taken a couple of years for him to build his trust with me. But one step at a time, and hopefully he will start to engage with other organisations. Knowing that he is ok, is very good though, if I don’t see the usual faces around town I get worried, and I know that others do too.

 

We spoke to an older lady who is 63 years old. She had failed her ESA medical and has been forced to sign on. She has numerous medical conditions and there is no way that she should be forced to sign on, for heavens sake she’s 63 and should have been entitled to her pension. We advised her to appeal this decision and she told us that she hadn’t been advised of this by her advisor. She took a leaflet, and told us that she would submit an appeal as soon as possible. It’s sickening that a government can treat older people like this, it both upsets and angers me, in  my eyes this can never be right, never.

 

I spoke to a woman and a man entering the Jobcentre. I stopped them because the man had no shoe on one foot and his ankle was twisted slightly, he was also using a makeshift walking stick. I immediately asked them if they were ok and they told me that it was their first time signing on, and they had been warned that they had to attend. Getting medical attention should have been their priority, but they were afraid that if they went their claim would be dismissed. I informed them of their rights and handed them a leaflet. But being so scared of a system that is designed to punish them, has forced them into not putting their health first. To put it simply, it’s inhumane, horrendous, well I have other words also but I don’t like swearing on here. The amount of control that the government now has over the poorest and most vulnerable in society is obscene. Their first thought is that they must comply to a system that hates them, that actively discriminates them and abuses them, much like an abusive relationship only a person cannot walk away from the system. even if they manage to find a job, it has to be a well paid, full time job and there aren’t many of them around now, especially for people that aren’t highly qualified.

I spoke to a lady who was leaving the Jobcentre after her appointment. She asked me if it was usual for the advisors to ask lots of probing questions about her children. She also told me that she was aggressive with her tone of questioning and she felt intimidated by this. I informed her, that no it isn’t usual, that her advisor should not be prying into her personal life, after all they already had all the details of her children for her claim and no further help was needed with this. She also informed me that she felt that this advisor had tried to target her from the start of her appointment, by telling her that she wasn’t fulfilling her claimant commitment. She told her advisor that she was, and she went through her weekly activity step by step proving that she was doing. She told me ‘It’s not fair, I know that I’m doing everything right, I’m not stupid. Just because I’m young and have children does not mean that I’m stupid. I’m just glad that I could prove her wrong and I challenged her, others might not have done’. In my opinion, this advisor was acting out of order, had decided that she would target this young woman and failed in her attempt to do so.

I advised her to make an official complaint and how to do so. This is very effective and if she does this, she won’t have to see that advisor again and it would make other advisors think twice about targeting her. I had to do this once and it works. If you are undergoing the same problem then please make an official complaint. If you have a decent MP then do it through them. It works and is very effective.

 

Even though there was only a few of us there today we helped lots of people, gave people hope, support and solidarity. We also provided food, and some warm packs that had been donated. We handed out approximately 12 food parcels in two hours. That’s a lot but they were needed and are needed every week. They are essential. and we will return next week and every week to do the same.

Many thanks to everyone who attended, you all give me hope that one day this might change. Not overnight but it might change and when you have nothing else hope does help doesn’t it. Many thanks to my readers and for everyone who supports my blog and the campaign, without you it would be hard to carry on, and I know that I don’t say it enough but THANK YOU so much.

 

I now have to attend to my daughter who has caught a sickness bug, so if I’m delayed in responding to you that is why. I’m hoping that it is a 24 hour bug, it’s that time of year.

Keep well everyone and solidarity to you all.

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No we won’t print off proof of Universal Credit claim for one of our courses but we will give you a telephone number instead… Universal Credit hell.

Ok first may I wish each and every one of my readers a happy new year and I hope that the new year treats you better than the previous one has. Of course I understand that this is impossible unless something drastic happens in the near future, and that isn’t likely is it.

Anyway today was our first week back after the festive period, although we didn’t have any time off, we were helping people outside the Jobcentre last week in appalling weather and that help was desperately needed.

I arrived as usual and as I did Roy was already there waiting for me in his car with the food parcels. I really do appreciate this Roy, because I do know that your health isn’t brilliant at the moment. Please get well soon!

We placed the food parcels in their usual place, and I really had no idea that they would be taken as quickly as they were. I should have known better really because Christmas and New Year payments were paid early and as a result people had spent their money on basic necessities early. Its a no win situation for them, and Christmas can put a lot of pressure on a person to spend money on presents for family members that they don’t want to let down. It’s awful being poor, awful living in poverty and giving someone a present no matter how small it is makes you feel like you still fit in with society, that you don’t feel like an outcast because of your poverty.  And you know what they say, those who have the least give the most. Basically the whole festive period can be a rotten time.

 

The food parcels were taken very quickly because of the above reasons and for other reasons that I shall list below. No one should have to live hand to mouth, but it’s now quickly becoming an acceptable way of living which disgusts myself and others.

 

The first lady whom I spoke to has had a rotten time. She has children, and had worked all her life. Due to circumstances beyond her control she became ill and has had to apply for ESA and other benefits related to her children. They have been living off bits of food given to her by her mother and also depending on her parents to provide money for gas and electric.

I spotted her looking towards the food parcels and I asked her if she would like a leaflet. She said yes and we started to chat about her situation and how she has been coping. I told her that she could take some food if she wanted to, and she said yes, she needed it but had been too proud to say so. We had a good chat and I signposted her towards other local organisations for further help. I am hoping that her ESA claim goes through in the very near future although as we know that won’t be the end of the arduous task of trying to survive and cope with the seemingly constant medicals.

 

I spoke to a man who was drenched from head to toe. He had no coat, had lost his wallet and had nothing. He asked for a food parcel, I gave him one and referred him to a place where he might find a coat. He’s a young man, about to start his life instead he is having to live like this and quite simply it’s unacceptable.

 

I spoke to a lady who is on the path to recovery and she comes to see me every week. She’s doing so well and her smile said it all. What a wonderful lady I’m very proud of her and everyone else in similar situations.

 

I spoke to a man who is waiting for his Universal Credit claim to go through. He’s been waiting a long time now, but that isn’t unusual. The six week wait is a myth, I know that I’ve said this before. The wait is much, much longer.

 

I spoke to an older lady who was also waiting for her Universal Credit payment to go through. I know that she applied not long before Christmas so she won’t receive a payment until at the very least, the last week of January. I advised her that she can get an interim payment, but she then told me “How on earth am I going to pay that back? I owe money everywhere, to friends, family and I’ve taken loans out. I can’t afford to pay anything else back.” I gave her a food parcel, and advised her to get some financial advice from a local organisation. She looked so depressed, fed up and thin. Just by looking at her I could see that she hadn’t ate for a while.

 

I spoke to a chap whom I have been speaking to for around 3 1/2 years now. That’s how long he has been looking for work and he is trying his best. He is highly skilled and has kept up to date with his his qualifications and experience. He spends a lot of time at the local library and he really can’t try any harder.

He told us that he is concerned that the agencies that advertise on the Universal Jobmatch site could be sending claimants details to junk mail organisations and outlets. This is a genuine concern, because I found myself that once I started to use Universal Jobmatch a while ago I started to receive lots of junk mail, so there’s must do also. It’s already been proven that many of these so called jobs either don’t exist or are duplicated. If applying for jobs through an agency on this site, please find out the name of the company advertising the job and contact them directly. I know not all of them will accept this, but I have heard of successful job applications when this has been done.

He also went on to say that a tougher stance needs to be taken against Universal Credit, he feels let down, not supported by any political organisation and this is a major concern.

 

I spoke to a lady whom had been forced into self employment by her Job Coach whilst claiming Universal Credit. She told me that she couldn’t cope, it has made her ill, so much so that she has to now claim the sickness element and is now handing in sick notes. She did tell her advisor that she really didn’t think that she was able to cope with self employment, but her Job Coach ignored her. Now she is ill thanks to the DWP.

 

I spoke to a young man who is new to the whole system. He had worked from leaving school, and due to no fault of his own had lost his job, so he is now having to undergo the whole Universal Credit system, which can appear impossible at best.

He told me that he had just completed a course at a local organisation after being referred there by the Jobcentre. He went on to say that he had proudly passed his exam and has now been referred for another course by the DWP. You don’t get much choice in the matter really but he told me that he enjoyed the courses.

To start this course he needs proof that he is claiming Universal Credit. A print off letter from his advisor, or anything similar that will confirm this. Now you’d think that this would be a simple enough task wouldn’t you… Well no it isn’t. His advisor refused to print off a letter, or anything to substantiate such claim, and instead handed him a telephone number and told him that he would need to telephone the number and a them instead.

It’s not the first time that I’ve encountered this issue, this happens all the time, but come on they demand that he attends the course then the pressure should be on his advisor to provide him with the relevant documents. Common sense does not prevail within the DWP though.

So he left to make the telephone call. The result of this will most likely be that they will send a fax to the Jobcentre later today to his advisor, for his advisor to do a print out that takes 10 minutes at the very most to do. Its ridiculous, and a farce that they seem to gain some kind of sick pleasure out of.

He walked away stating the obvious.. “It’s bloody ridiculous.. It wouldn’t take five minutes to do this, they want me to attend the course. The world has gone mad hasn’t it” I had to agree with him, I mean who wouldn’t?

 

 

I spoke to a gentleman that I regularly have conversations with. He had been homeless and has now been offered a flat, and he was so excited to tell me the good news. He is looking so much better and looked very smart. He nearly had me in tears when he said “Thank you for helping me, I couldn’t have done it without you. You never gave up on me, you showed me where I could go for help when I needed it and when I was ready I accessed this help. You saw me at my worst, when I was at rock bottom and never gave up. Thank you.

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Today was a tough day as usual but what else could I expect. We will be returning next week, and the week after etc. Please come and join us we will give you a warm welcome!

I want to thank all of my readers for supporting the campaign and the blog, you all cheer me up and keep me going as well as the team that is. Thank you!

I’d also like to thank my union the NUJ for the help towards the food parcels and to everyone else that has helped also. Thank you!  Big shoutout to Pauline and the gang. But most of all a massive shoutout to everyone that is having to endure this cruel system. You are all my heroes. I know exactly how hard it is and I hoe that one day it does get better.

 

Please share, tweet, and talk about my blog. Send a copy to your MP even if they are a Tory. Its very important that we keep the conversation going. Thank you!

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I was going to go to Ikea and steal some milk for my children.. Failed ESA medicals.. Long Universal Credit waits. Today’s blog.

It’s supposed to be the season to be jolly isn’t it.. well that’s what they keep telling us.. They being the media in general and the community, except that it isn’t a season to be jolly, not for the people that I spoke to today. Most of them didn’t have a Christmas, many that did spent it alone and it was dire. That’s the best way of describing it.

 

Temperatures have plummeted yet again, and ice was thick on the ground when I set off from my home for the demo. It’s supposed to be a quiet period, the period between Christmas and New Year, and it is for many, however when you are unemployed and are forced to claim Universal Credit and the like job searches still have to be completed, forms still have to be filled in and life just carries on as normal, well as normal as normal can get if you know what I mean.

 

I had my daughter in tow today and we arrived early because she wanted to buy some warm drinks for the homeless folk that are in our local town. She’s got a good heart she really has, and we did just that because even at the age of 11 she realises that it’s important to keep warm.

As we were strolling through the shopping arcades I was approached by a young couple that have had just about the longest run of bad luck that I’ve ever known. When disaster strikes, it certainly strikes at their door.

They and their children had been illegally evicted from their home just before Christmas and they have been forced to stay at a friends 1 bedroomed flat for the time being, because everywhere was shut for the Christmas period. It seems that their landlord certainly had taken a leaf out of Scrooges handbook, and illegally evicted them from their home whilst they were out. They weren’t even allowed to access their possessions, clothes and Christmas presents for the children. They had lost everything including access to their mail.

They have taken advice from Shelter who have appointed them a solicitor and they have started the legal proceedings. I can’t go into further details here because I don’t want to hamper this, however from what I was told this was illegal, the police are involved and they have a solicitor. It’s a start.

The woman was nearly crying when she was telling me about it all, about how awful Christmas was for them all and it was just awful. It was then that my friend Dan arrived for a surprise visit, and I think their story even shocked him. She told me that she was going to go to Ikea and fill a bottle full of milk. I told her that we would help them and we did just that. For crying out loud we are the 5th or 6th (can’t remember this exactly so please forgive me) and people are living a life like this. But hey, it’s ok because we can now have blue passports, well the people that can afford them that is. It’s sickening isn’t it.

 

 

Dan had travelled miles to join us, and both myself and Gordon were certainly relieved to have him with us today. He came laden with extra food parcels that were all distributed.. Thanks Dan. Anyway I digress.

 

 

 

I spoke to a man who had been looking attentively at the food parcels. He must have been freezing. He was wearing a very thin summer jacket and a thin summer shirt. I asked him if he was ok and did he need any help at all. He told me that he was three weeks into his long wait for his Universal Credit claim to go through. Looking at him, I doubt that if he hadn’t bumped into us today then he might not have survived the long wait for his claim to go through. I gave him food, had a good chat with him and signposted him. I asked him to come and have a chat with us next week as well if he can because a friendly word is what is needed when times are tough. I can then check if he is accessing other organisations. Sometimes this can take several weeks to happen for many different reasons.

 

 

I spoke to a young woman who went on to tell me how useless the work programme is. She’s correct, it’s awful and these so called back to work programmes actually take a lot of time away from actual job searching and attempting to improve a person’s life. They are soul destroying they really are.

 

 

I spoke to a man that is for the third time having to appeal a wrongful ESA medical assessment result. He was angry, totally understandable and we had a long discussion about the evils of the system. He took a leaflet and told me that he will be in touch with the relevant organisations.

 

I made comment that upon walking into the computer area of our library is akin to walking into a sea of lost souls.. Every time that I walk in there I see people that I speak to outside the Jobcentre, all looking for not suitable non existent jobs. I hope that they have been able to keep up with their job search whilst the library has been shut for Christmas. If they don’t then they will be sanctioned.

 

 

We spoke to an older chap who was waiting for his girlfriend to finish her appointment inside the Jobcentre. He hadn’t been told that he could accompany her, because she is vulnerable and has just failed her ESA assessment. They are appealing, and will be taking it to tribunal. ‘We have to do this every time’ she said. However, I did inform her of her ability to claim the appeal rate which she said that she would look into.

 

 

Another man started to speaking to me, he told me that he used to be a good employer and a fair one. He used to run a good business and had thought that he would be respected when he was older. ‘I can’t believe that I’m being treated worse than the crap underneath someone’s shoes’ he retorted. The pain in his eyes was obvious.

 

We handed out lots of food parcels, helped lots of people because help is still needed throughout the year. Every week my heart breaks a bit but is built up again by the people that I speak to and of course you, my readers and my Facebook and Twitter friends. You can find me on Twitter as @charlotteh71

Thank you for all your support, it keeps me and the team going. But most of all it keep the people going that have to endure this cruel system, and it’s cruel beyond measure.

This week was tough, maybe one day things will get better and I pray hard for that day.

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Christmas demo, carols, food parcels. Christmas is cancelled for many.

Hi folks my apologies I’m having to write this week’s blog on my phone so if it’s not up to scratch then I apologise in advance. This week was our annual Christmas demo, we do this every year and have every done for three years now. We didn’t do this on the first year of our demos, I don’t know why, but we should have done. I do regret that now. I planned the demo loosely around the theme ‘A Universal Credit’, normally we wear costumes but this year we didn’t I simply didn’t have time although a friend made placards for us to wear which is always much better than carrying them with does become hard work after a while. There’s a lot to be said for sandwich boards at times like these. Because my daughter had finished school for the Christmas holidays the day before I was able to accept a lift to the demo offered to me by a friend. This made such a difference to my day and thank you Jean. I also had bought some mince pies, Roy brought the Chrissy sent you hot water flask. This proved very popular and we quickly ran out of water. Thank you to Ray for donating it and to Roy for bringing it.

To say it was hectic and busy is an understatement, from the moment I arrived I didn’t stop, the demand for the food parcels was extremely high today. We had around 12 of our usual food parcels and more were later brought by supporters from local Labour Party groups. This was a surprise and in the end we handed out at least 20 food parcels. We could have handed out more but we had ran out, but I didn’t leave anyone in the lurch. I referred everyone needing and taking a food parcel to a local organisation that can support them further. We also handed out lots of hand knitted scarfs knitted by a friend to people. About 30 people arrived to support the demo today and that was amazing it really was I couldnt believe it. Many thanks to my friends over at DPAC for helping me to publicise the demo. A supporter also brought some toys that were wrapped up for any children to have as Christmas presents. This was a lovely idea and they were welcomed. I spoke to a young man who is having an awful time whilst claiming Universal Credit. He told me that he won’t be getting his first payment until the 29th of January and even then he won’t receive his full amount because he had to take a loan from them. I talk to people all the time who are going through this situation, it’s awful that it’s becoming commonplace. I had a long chat with him, advised him, signposted him and gave him a food parcel because he had no food and also some presents for his children. He was so happy I just wish that he wasn’t in that situation. I spoke to a chap who really wanted to thank me for keeping him going he said. He has also been accessing other help, but he told me the kind words and advice have meant a lot and they gave him something to fight for. He also proudly told me that he had been dry for 6 days now and he was now in a better place. I am so happy I really am. One step at a time is all that anyone can do, and it’s taken time and patience but it can be done. I spoke to a lady and her boyfriend who were once again struggling with Universal Credit. I can’t go into details here but their situation isn’t good so I gave them a couple of food parcels and referred them again to a local organisation for further support. Out of nowhere it seems an older chap came out of nowhere, gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek, said thank you to me for helping him and walked away. That made me tearful. What a nice thing to do. I spoke to a pensioner who was in need of a food parcel. I did refer him to local organisations but his need shouldn’t be happening in the first place should it. This government have no respect for anyone. They obviously weren’t taught any manners, one being to respect your elders. There was so many people that I helped today and spoke to and it sickened me that this is a need at all. Things are getting worse that’s a certainty, and when Universal Credit is fully rolled out everywhere it is going to be catastrophic. This is why we need to campaign for a stop, scrap and to reform a system that is actually fair and isn’t discrimitory. We made some speeches, sang some very appropriate carols and hung a wreath outside the Jobcentre. The wreath is laid in memory of every single person that has passed away as a result of the governments cruel regime. We do this every year. Normally the Jobcentre throw out wreaths away but this year they actually took it inside and hung it up. Thank you. There is a new manager though. A really big thank you to everyone that came along I’m still in shock when I say that it means a lot it really does. Also to the bigot that chose to be abusive towards myself and others I hope that you develop a conscience or a kinder heart. And by the way your words mean nothing to me they are just a reflection of yourself. We will be outside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre again next week 10-12. I hope to see you there. And for the team you are all amazing and I really do think the world of you all. For my readers and supporters of my blog thank you so much. For anyone reading this and hating Christmas because it’s a reminder of everything that you don’t have….. I’m with you and thinking of you. Be kind to each other.

 

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Universal Credit nightmare “I’ve had no money for 12 weeks” Disabled man forced to complete a job searching course 5 days a week (again). The nightmare continues.

I’d like to start my blog today by saying a massive thank you to Gordon, Jill and Christine for helping today. Also a really big thank you to a long time supporter Jan for coming to say hi and treating us all to a cuppa. Also thanks to my friend for making lots of warm curry to hand out and a thank you for the food parcels. The reason why I have started my blog like this is because the weather was awful last night and early this morning. We had an unexpected heavy snowfall and inches of the horrible stuff were lying on the cold ground within half an hour. Luckily it started to rain in the early hours of the morning and when I had to walk to school so almost all of the snow is gone, although I expect there to still be a little near my home. My thoughts go out to everyone who are street homeless, sofa surfing and living in their own homes unable to afford to turn their heating on.

I really expected to be on my own today because of the weather and illness but thank goodness I wasn’t. I was met almost immediately by Gordon with the food parcels, then Rose arrived to come and chat. We helped her along with members of Unite Community from Manchester a while ago and when she is feeling well enough she comes to join us. I love this lady so much.

Before Gordon arrived I spoke to an older chap, he told me that he was disabled and to be honest he was really struggling to enter the Jobcentre. The doors are extremely heavy and they turn off the automatic door opening on Thursday mornings especially for us. I suppose they think that we might charge through the doors or something… Well we have not done this in over four years of demonstrating and helping and we aren’t about to start now are we. Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre please respect your disabled job seekers and parents pushing prams. Turn the automatic door opening back on please…

I advised the chap of what he should do to remedy his situation, told him that he wasn’t alone and that it’s scandalous that he is even being asked to do this. The combination of his age and disability will make it near impossible for him to find work and no amount of courses will improve this will it.

To say it was cold is an understatement so when Jan arrived with the cuppas we were more than ready for them. I didn’t have our big hot water container today because Roy isn’t feeling well so couldn’t attend. Get well soon Roy!! We missed you! The large flask was donated by my friend Ray Woolford when he came to visit us one week. Thank you so much!

I spoke to a lady who was fed up to say the least. She told me that she was sick and tired of being put though the mill (as us northerners say) and is feeling tired and angry. She told me that she isn’t being given a minutes peace and quiet from the DWP. They are constantly hounding her, her life isn’t her own anymore. She said ‘Why can’t they just leave me alone to get on with things? I do everything that they say but still they hound me, I feel like giving up’. I had a good chat with her, gave her a copy of our survival guide and informed her of her rights concerning the DWP. She was very grateful, because like she told me ‘They tell you nowt in there do they, except that they will sanction you if you don’t do everything that they say’.

She is correct in saying this. Job coaches inside Jobcentre’s certainly do not sit at their desk with the rule book next to them. Good advisors will do things correctly and with compassion, the less scrupulous ones often make the rules up as they go along and I have heard of some rather bizarre rules that they have made up. Only this morning I was told of one claimant being told that they have to have a Twitter account when applying for their Universal Credit. There is nothing in the rules that states a person has to have a Twitter account at all, and they can dispute this. Please folks, its important not to simply agree with everything that they say. Research your rights if you can, and then get a reasonable Claimant Commitment drawn up because believe me they will try and get unreasonable rules in so that it makes it easier for them to sanction you.

REMEMBER WHEN DEALING WITH UNIVERSAL CREDIT RULES ARE OFTEN IGNORED.

I spoke to a lady who is sofa surfing at the moment because it has become too cold to live in her tent. I have signposted her again to a local organisation that will help her if she access them. I really urged her to do this.

I spoke to a young man who is homeless, but because the temperature has once again risen above 0 he is now back to living on the streets. He does access emergency accommodation when the weather is deemed cold enough. I asked him to try and access a local organisation so that they can help him access some temporary accommodation. Homelessness is a complicated issue, and therefore I would appreciate it if people would stop judging people that are forced to live on the streets. I do wish that their critics and trolls would actually take the time to talk to them and help them.

I spoke to a man who was waiting for his ESA claim to go thorough. Thankfully it won’t be long now, but I gave him a food parcel, and signposted him to a local organisation as well.

Christmas is round the corner and as usual this is the time when claimants tend to be sanctioned more either by the Jobcentre of a Work Programme operator. Also claimants that have applied for Universal Credit in the last two weeks or so will not get a payment until at least the 28th of January. Yes I know that they can get a ‘Loan’ but these loans come at a great expense and can put a person and family into extreme poverty for months to come. These advance payments should not be loans, they should be given to people because it is money that they are rightfully entitled to receive to survive on and it’s scandalous that the government actually does this in the first place, and that many in society accept this as they way it should be. It should not be like this, never and I won’t accept it.

Sadly I had to leave half a hour early to accompany my daughter to her Christmas dinner at school. It’s her last one at primary school so therefore was very special to us.

We will be outside the Jobcentre next Thursday as usual, although next week it will be our special Christmas demonstration. We will have extra food parcels and special Christmas ones. Thanks to Pauline for these and the group We Shall Overcome.

We will also be there the week after as usual because people still need help even after Christmas, all year round in fact.

I will be honest I was despondent this morning I was fed up with the weather, and the general mood of the country. I just don’t know how much more suffering that people can take, thats a thought that never leaves me.

Please read, share and talk about my blog. Send it to your local MPs even your Conservative ones, they need to be made aware of the reality of the situation regarding Universal Credit and real life.

 

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Christmas is cancelled for many claiming benefits at Ashton Jobcentre. Abusive passers by, DWP advisors knowingly giving out incorrect information. Advisor refusing to give food bank referral for vulnerable person. Welcome to Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre.

Well what can I say, today’s demo was busy hectic and stressful and just about anything that could happen did happen. Ashton Jobcentre is certainly getting into the festive spirit in their sadistic way.

As I arrived at the Jobcentre a man was already waiting for me. We had spoken on the telephone the previous evening and he needed some advice, so thats what I did I gave him some advice. He requested that I accompany him to his appointment at the Jobcentre, but I couldn’t they won’t allow me inside the Jobcentre on Thursdays to represent people, even though I’m not a threat to them at all. Luckily a friend of mine arrived who said that she would gladly do this and accompanied with notes thats exactly what she did.

The gentleman that she was helping had been claiming ESA, but hadn’t received a letter notifying him of his medical. The DWP basically called him a liar, that they had no proof that he didn’t receive it so therefore they were stopping his payments. He had made a claim for a mandatory consideration but like readers will know many people get refused this also, so he is now appealing this decision.

The Jobcentre had called him in to make a claim for JSA but his advisor had told him that he was too ill to claim this so he must wait for his appeal… without any money. This happens a lot folks, but the DWP do not care, they are happy to send vulnerable people off into the world with no means of survival. He didn’t have any food, so we gave him a food parcel and referred him to other organisations in the area. I also gave him money for electric because without it he couldn’t cook the food that I had given him, nor keep warm. We are expecting some very cold weather so this is vital.

Upon attending his appointment with my colleague, he asked for a food parcel referral. He was refused on the grounds that they don’t do them. I know this to be a lie and so did my colleague so she challenged this. They repeated this on more than one occasion. They also refused to help him with much more except to give him a telephone number to phone, a number that the advisor was quite able to telephone herself. I know that this is the usual way of doing things but the system is disgusting and to deny a vulnerable person a foodbank referral is beyond disgusting and will be challenged further.

I then spoke to a man who wanted to sign our petition. He had waited 9 weeks to receive his first Universal Credit payment and he told me that he went through hell, and that he doubts that he will ever recover from this. Starving people into finding non existent work really does not work, although it does make people ill and could eventually kill them.

I spoke to a lady who was lodging with friends. She is an older lady and would love her own home but in her own words said ‘It’s not possible for me to do so. I couldn’t afford to keep my own home and at least my friends will feed me if I’m short of money. Without them I would be on the streets’

Shes been forced to sign on weekly whilst awaiting her claim for Universal Credit to go through, and she knows that this can take a long while. She was obviously distressed at having to sign on weekly and told me that she felt persecuted. Her advisor has no understanding that she cannot access a computer every day and when she does she struggles to use them. Regardless of this she still has to comply with a eight hour a day job search.

It was at that point when I was told to ‘Get a job” for the first time and that I am a scrounger. Lovely eh, but that wasn’t the only time that this happened today.

I then spoke to an older man who told me that he was having a horrible time whilst waiting for his Universal Credit payment to go through. He told me that he felt humiliated, depressed and a failure. Having to depend on foodbanks for help is the worst thing thats happened to him in his life he said. He had preciously worked and had never been unemployed before.

I was then told to ‘Get a job again, and to stop helping benefit scroungers. Why should you help them when all they need to do is to get a job. Don’t help the homeless either because they are scroungers as well.’ He then went on too say that he was unemployed but that didn’t matter, he is different. He applies for work.’ This is sadly the attitude of many and it’s not pleasant to hear. I spoke to him and gave him my opinion on the subject which I hope that he listened to and absorbed, but I doubt it somehow.

A claimant then told me of his friends experience of being sanctioned because he was having a pacemaker fitted on the day that his Jobcentre appointment had been made. He had informed them of his urgent operation, but they told him that his appointment was more important. He was sanctioned, he appealed and he won. It’s a way of punishing people and its cruel beyond measure.

It was then when an elderly lady marched over. She started shouting at ourselves and the claimants going into the Jobcentre, telling them that they were all scroungers, and that I was one as well. I asked her politely to stop shouting and to move away because she was upsetting people. She said no, she wouldn’t she wanted to have her say. A homeless chap that I know walked over and asked me if I was ok, I said yes and he gave me a hug, I really needed that. I then told her to move away, that we wern’t listening to her abuse any longer and she eventually left. We’ve met her before and she said exactly the same things that time as well, except that time her so called scrounger neighbours were the problem.

It’s important to challenge these attitudes peacefully all the time, however I can never condone violence.

As we were handing out leaflets I saw an older man trying to cross the road. He was very thin, was using a walking stick and nearly fell twice. I dashed over, helped him across the road and helped him to catch his breath. I asked him where he was going and he told me that he was going to do his shopping but had taken ill. He was really struggling. So I asked him if he would like to go home if I paid for a taxi, he said yes so I helped him into a taxi.

This all happened in the space of two hours, the weather was cold and people are really suffering out there. I wish that I had a magic wand so that I could change everything, give everyone a decent quality of life, make sure that everyone has a home to live in, food to eat and a nice warm home. It’s appalling that more and more people will be denied this before Christmas, thousands of children also. I always think about everyone who is suffering because ‘But for the grace of god go I’

A massive thank you to everyone that came to the demo today I know that I expect a lot from you.

A big thanks to Roy for bringing the next batch of leaflets.

Thank you to everyone who reads, shares and supports my blog. The past three weeks have been extremely busy and the work certainly does not end on Thursdays, for myself that is the start of yet another busy week.

Please donate if you can! Thank you so much!

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8 1/2 month pregnant lady told to attend parenting course on the threat of a sanction. Man forced onto a 2 week course 5 days a week at the Jobcentre 9-4. Welcome to Universal Credit hell.

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Can I start this weeks blog by saying how angry I am at this system that the government likes to call ‘Benefits’. Change the name, make it sound different then stigmatise the vulnerable people that are in desperate need of help. That’s exactly how this government rolls isn’t it. Today was just awful and there are no excuses that can be made to justify the governments deplorable behaviour against the poor. I do feel that it is a war against the poor and at the moment they have the upper hand. This cannot be allowed to continue for forever can it.

Anyway, you don’t want to hear my rant but it’s how I feel. But remember its not ‘Benefits’ it’s ‘Social Security’.

I arrived at the Jobcentre and was met by two Journalists from BBC North West, I do believe that the presenter was one of the two chaps but because I don’t have a television I wouldn’t really know. He seemed nice enough and they both were freezing cold. They actually stuck it out for the whole two hours, so kudos to them I just hope that the report is favourable.

The first chap that I spoke to was annoyed. He told me that he hated the Jobcentre, hated their attitude and just about everything about it. He’s trying his best to cope with the relentless system that just doesnt let a person rest at all.

Not content with his endless job searching looking for non existent and unsuitable jobs, they have put him on a two week course which is from 9-4 five days a week to teach him how to job search. He will then have to also do his allocated quota of job searching or he will be sanctioned. It never ends does it. he knows how to look for a job, he is doing so already but the government likes to spend thousands upon thousands on these dodgy companies to so called train these people. Make no mistake this is done purposely to remind a claimant of their place, to keep them demoralised and to not let them get ideas above their station.

The food parcels then arrived, along with some extra ones donated by Pat and the gang from Glossop. They were all taken and were needed. Along with the food parcels everyone was given a leaflet and encouraged to attend local outreach places where they can access further help if required.

I then spoke to a lady who’s niece and her family of three children and partner are going to have to wait over 6 weeks for their first payment of Universal Credit. I gave her a food parcel, a leaflet and also I encouraged her aunt to access the support available. As many people will know a person or family that have been transferred over to Universal Credit or have made a new claim most likely will not receive a payment until at least the 28th of January. Yes they can get an advance payment however this still has to be paid back at 40% until the rule changes are implemented. This might be in February but I wouldn’t hold my breath. I can’t find any reason why they can’t implement this sooner, however as we know they like being cruel.

My friend Kevin then appeared. He had travelled miles to join us, and he found this difficult however he did because he saw the need to. Why? to give people solidarity. He brought a lovely gift to give to someone needing it, which I did and you will read about this below.

Kevin is just fab! Big shoutout for Kevin and a huge thank you from the team!

I then spoke to a lovely lady who is having a very hard time of it. She had no money, no food (or very little) and at the time didn’t know which way to turn. The DWP do not help a person, they don’t give sympathy they just rubber stamp everything and send a claimant out. It’s a cruel harsh system.

I spoke to her and we both ended up crying, she was so nice and certainly didnt deserve to be treated like this. I gave her a hug and a much needed food parcel. I also handed over the lovely present that Kevin had brought with him and she was so happy. This is what it’s all about folks, helping people, giving solidarity, advice, and we are lucky that we can hand out food parcels. She later contacted me me to let me know that she was ok and I cried again. I’ll share the post, but I will not divulge personal details unless I get permission.

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It was then that things got a whole lot worse. We stopped a lady who was leaving the Jobcentre to give her a leaflet etc. She told us that her sister was inside the Jobcentre and she had been refused entry to accompany her. Her sister is 8 1/2 months pregnant and had been told to attend a mandatory appointment for a parenting course. I find this totally ridiculous and abhorrent. This lady already has an older child, there is no history of any family troubles and she takes good care of her child and unborn child. Ignoring these facts, she was told that she had to attend or face being sanctioned.

As you can imagine her sister was furious as was I. People reading this might say.. “Oh but there’s rules”. Well I can tell you that when a person is claiming Universal Credit these rules are flouted quite blatantly all the time. This is why Universal Credit cannot be fixed because its corrupt and created to fail people, its inherrant to it’s design. STOP, SCRAP and design a new system that actually works. But hey what do we know, we’ve only experienced Universal Credit for over four years now.

I’m not ashamed to say that I cried again upon hearing her story when she left the Jobcentre. The DWP will not leave her alone, she feels constantly harassed, is still being told at 8 1/2 months pregnant that she has to look for jobs in Manchester and is so stressed that she is being prevented from enjoying her pregnancy.

Readers will know that my daughter had a similar fate when pregnant, as have many other pregnant ladies. For attending a Workfare interview at B&Q, telling them that she was 23 weeks pregnant she recieved a 3 year sanction. This has been featured in the media quite heavily in the past. However, I get very upset when a pregnant lady is treated this way. The DWP have no respect for anyone let alone an unborn child.

This my friends is how evil Universal Credit is.

I gave her our last food parcel, a leaflet and encouraged her to try and attend any of the local outreach organisations available.

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BBC North West Interviewing the heavily pregnant lady.

We also spoke to many more people. We helped lots of people, had chats with local folk that were passing by and handed out lots of leaflets. The weather was cold but our spirits were high.

Many thanks to everyone that came along today to our demo, you all keep me going and you are all amazing! Also happy birthday to John, we did a wonderful rendition of Happy Birthday which was well recieved.

To be honest I’ve had an awful week, I don’t want to talk about myself too much it’s boring. However I do need to ask a question. I enjoy blogging, I need to get the word out to people and I do not want to change my blogging platform, I can’t really lots of people follow it and I really do not want to loose readers. I was always under the impression that the free version was unlimited, but it isn’t. I’ve used 75% of my available space and I can’t afford to pay for the subscription. However the subscription would be much better because I could add my future podcasts to it etc.

Any ideas are more than welcome, but I can’t leave WordPress.

Please read, share, talk about my blog. Talk about the issues that I write about. I’m more than a bit worried that Universal Credit and the suffering that people are having to endure will become normalised like the Bedroom Tax and the Council Tax supplement have been. Let’s keep the pressure on the government.

Sadly I never stop now, my whole life is revolved around this campaign and my daughter. Any donations are most welcome. Thank you so much to every one of my readers and supporters that already have and do. Thank you.

My paypal button isn’t working so my ad is seercharlotte@gmail.com

Thank you.