As soon as I arrived outside Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre I was stopped by a lovely gentleman. He said to me that he had been waiting for me to arrive because he had been told that we would be there. He just wanted to tell me his story and to thank us. Here is his story. It’s not unusual by any means, but alot of people just dont see the reality of it all. You wouldn’t believe how many people still ask me what a sanction is. I suppose its the old addage, if it doesnt affet me then Im not bothered.
He didnt give me his name, that’s often the case. As Ive said before claimants want to protect their anonimity, and I respect their wishes. Not to do so would be very rude.
He had worked all his adult life, hardly had any time off sick and was loyal to whatever company he worked for. Unfortunatley he had been made redundant and couldnt find another job. This is often the case now. Work is very hard to find, a decent full time job that is able to pay the bills that is. There’s plenty of zero hour underpaid contracts to be had, which arent suitable if you have a family to look after.
He decided to sign on as he said, it was a last resort, he had no money. This was two years ago and he was placed on Universal Credit. As a result of this he said he was constantly hounded. He said that he would get at least five telephone calls a day, even when he was placed on the work programme. They would phone him up asking him if he was doing his job searches, if he was complying and if he didnt that he would be sanctioned. They told him that he wasnt allowed to turn his mobile phone off, and would phone him early, and late. He said that it got to the point where he became paranoid, that he was being controlled and that his life wasnt his own.
As a result he got very ill and had a nervous breakdown. He was hospitalised and taken care off. When he left hospital he was helped with his ESA (employment support allowance) form and was awarded the higher rate and was placed in the non work related activity group. He was very thankful of that, but he said tha he is very aware that this could end at any time, so he said he had been reading this blog, my facebook pages and others and empowering himself with knowledge. He told me that he wants to be ready for them this time, because his mental health couldnt take any more cruelty.
He is not a scrounger, he never has been. Most people who have to use a Jobcentre arent, indeed many are working and are forced to endure the work conditionality trial which is being trialed at Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre. This means that if you work fewer than 39 hours and are placed on univesal credit not working tax credits then you are seen as underemployed, and your children seen at risk of worklessness. Sounds obscene doesnt it? It is but its happening and I can’t stress enough that awareness is needed.
We also listened to a 70 year old ladies awful story of how she had been on DLA for 20 years or so. Because of the changes made to DLA she had been transferred over to esa and pip, she had been dissallowed it.She was crying and obviously distressed. Luckily she is already getting help with this, but she doesnt think the decision will go her way. She had been told that they had made a pre decision before it goes to court to say that she wont be awarded her payments and that “she should just get used to it”. I personally think that they are trying to scare her so that she doesnt go forward with her claim, but she is doing and I hope she wins.
Another gentleman, a regular reader of my facebook page came and said hello, and wanted to thank me for my support. We have been communicating via inbox, and I have been offereing support and advice on a personal basis. It was lovely to see him, and thank you for your kind words they always give me a boost.
Various other comments from people saying that Ashton Jobcentre is evil, they do nothing to help and they just make you feel worse. Awful, and like many say it should be called a sanction centre not a Jobcentre.
Ive placed my donate button at the bottom of this blog. It would be wonderful if anyine could donate, as I’m on an extremley low income and it would enable me to write more and to engage in more activites realted to my campaigning. Dont agree with donations? Ignore and scroll down! Many many thanks!