Yesterday when I arrived at the Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre I thought I was seeing things. They had taken down the paper that was covering the windows. Great I thought, the claimants will feel much more secure knowing that they can see outside now. I would have thought that they would have felt very intimidated upon entering a building that you can’t see out of. I walked. Up to the building and I noticed that they had placed some kind of reflective film on the glass, presumably so we can’t see inside. We don’t look inside anyway we are too busy helping people and handing leaflets out. My question is this. At what expense was this decision to put up reflective coatings on the glass? And who’s decision was this? Once again we come in peace and this is not needed at all.
Whilst standing outside a young woman approached me. She looked like she was in her early 20s and she looked very stressed. I asked her what was wrong. She replied “Ive had no money since October nothing. They sanctioned me for not writing long enough sentences on my job search. I’m not stupid I did everything right. I know I did. I keep asking for a hardship form and they keep refusing me, I know that’s illegal and I am appealing but I’m so frustrated. You see Im lucky because I live with my mum but it’s very hard on her. She can’t afford to keep me, ive got brothers and sisters that need feeding as well. I know she’s angry, she’s beginning to resent me being there but if I leave I will have no where and won’t be able to eat. If that happens Im thinking the worst because there isn’t any other way around it” I gave her some advice and a hug. She needed both. She said I know that I’m not alone because you lot are here.
Later on another young man walked over to me and spoke to me. It’s hard to tell his age because he’s so thin. Not being able to eat ages you dramatically.Ive wrote about him before, his sick notes aren’t good enough the Jobcentre say…. Even though they are. He suffers from clinical depression after a series of tragic events took him to nearly taking his life. He’s had no money since October as well. I asked him how is he doing. He said he’s so hungry he’s had a bit of food off a food bank but he has to make it last. He said he came over to tell us that he’s still here, that his sick notes aren’t good enough but he wanted to thank us for being there. He said we are the only reason why he is still here. “You’ve given me hope. Before I saw you all I had nothing. My world had been destroyed and I was close to taking my life. I know that you are all here for me and that keeps me going” I wanted to meet him this coming week but he’s got lots of appointments at the hospital. His doctor is very concerned about him. He said he would have lost his flat if we hadn’t told him that he could still claim housing benefit on a zero income basis.
Another man approached me he said “hello my diamond you will never guess what ive got a job!! Thank you for being there for me I will keep in touch” that also brought tears to my eyes.
This is just a usual Thursday outside the Jobcentre. And this is why we are there every week. Next Thursday is the national day of demonstrations against sanctions. It has been organised by unite the union and I urge everyone to join us all in standing outside your local Jobcentre to demonstrate against the sanctions. We will be outside as usual.
And a big thank you to dispatches for making two truthful programmes about the whole corrupt system. We enjoyed working with you. A massive thanks to the Green Party for supporting us and to the Morning Star newspaper for publishing my articles.
We don’t think that this should be allowed to continue. One death is a death too many.
The irony of this poster. We don’t condone violence in any way. We just wish the DWP would start treating people with respect….