First, may I start by apologising for this week’s update being late. Thursday was extremely busy and I’m afraid that this caught up with me. I was burnt out, and being of limited income cannot afford to buy the quality of food to sustain a healthy diet. Like the people that I speak to, I just fuel myself to keep going. Such is life!
This week was once again extremely cold. Yes it’s winter, and yes I do expect it. So why should I complain some say. It’s simple. Those saying this should try standing outside in the freezing cold for hours. They might have a bit of sympathy then. And it also is a bitter reminder of what my homeless friends have to contend with. Many will die this winter as a result. But the government will turn a blind eye to it because they don’t show any compassion and nor do they intend to.
From 9am to just before 10am I have a cuppa in a local cafe before the demo starts every Thursday. It’s only £1 for a cuppa and most people know where to find me now. Imagine my surprise when a lady that we had been helping for 8 months with food parcels came ad said hello. Ive mentioned her before. Anyway, she had been absent for a few weeks and myself and the team had been worried about her. She explained that she had had the flu and was unable to go out. I was overjoyed that she was ok. I bought her a cuppa and she came along to the demo and joined us.
As soon as the food parcels arrived they were being collected. We didn’t see one person that normally collects theirs, but they have been forced into a workfare job and had been given awkward hours. I will try and find them this week and give them something. That will ease the burden for them.
Someone mentioned to me that it was busy this week. It was no busier than usual,but usual is busy! None stop issues that needed dealing with,ranging from housing, sanctions, single parent issues, workfare, bedroom tax, council tax and rent issues. It came as no surprise to hear that the DWP still aren’t advising folk to claim their housing benefit on a zero income basis. We helped quite a few people with this issue, and signposted lots of folk. We don’t have an office, that would be a dream. But we do what we can do.
The overall feeling this week was one of (excuse the language) “They don’t give a shit, no one does.” People are feeling isolated, alone and cold. The winter always exacerbates issues.
People walking around in totally unsuitable clothes for the weather, unable to wrap up warm. They will become ill due to their immune system being compromised.
We also speak to alot of people whom have mental health issues and other disabilities whom are deemed fit for work. The system is cruel, heartless and the media has acted in an unforgivable way. Neighbours turning against each other instead of supporting each other. Is this the shared society that Teresa May envisaged? Yes, it is. As long as the wealth is only shared amongst the most wealthy then that’s their idea of sharing. I want to help everyone but I can’t. I know that many feel the same. If you are reading this and are suffering, then please know that you are important, that I’m thinking of you and so are many others. Hang in there and keep strong.
I’d like to give a shoutout to the rebellious Jobseekers who refused to leave the entrance of the Jobcentre to make phone calls to the Jobcentre. Yes, this is ridiculous. Why on earth aren’t their advisors helping them. The answer is quite simple. Advisors aren’t there to help anymore. If you ask them that they will say the same. All of the telephones that Jobseekers used to use to phone various DWP departments were ripped out, probably with great joy by the DWP. The police wernt called because we were standing outside I’ve no doubt. So kudos to this group of people. We need to see more of this.
One thing that I’d like to mention. Some people have mentioned that this is only one building in my town, that it can’t have a massive affect on my local community. Well, naysayers, it does. We have a very high unemployment level. We have little local industry and people, through no fault of their own rely on the DWP in order to survive. It also has a knock off affect on local shops and the local economy. The less money that people have, the less they can spend. Common sense really isn’t it.
I had a bizarre experience today. Once a month I am forced to use a supermarket, not of choice, to top up on some basic essentials. Having a very low income visiting a supermarket has really affected how I see things and how I actually am able to cope with a what should be a weekly shopping trip. The lights are too bright, there’s too much produce on shelves. I mean more than half of this are products that people don’t actually need but buy anyway. I bought what I could afford and left as soon as possible. I then realised that poverty has indeed isolated me. And even though I’ve wrote about this before in The Morning Star, sometimes it hits hard. Thousands feel what I felt today, and thousands will tomorrow. Life shouldn’t be like this. We should be able to buy something extra, some decent quality food. Right now the budget pasta will do and it keeps us going!
Money for coffee donated by a very kind lady that I speak to at school. Many thanks they helped with the cold!
Freezing cold handing out leaflets and advice.
Many thanks to everyone that came and joined us. I certainly was not expecting a good turn out this week because of the cold, but I was surprised. It was too cold to take many photos though.
Many thanks to everyone that supports us online, who read and shares my blog. Many thanks to the readers that have supported me. It’s a lonely world being an activist sometimes and it really helps. Many thanks to the reader that commented on The Guardian website and mentioned my blog. Thank you! Please keep sharing!
Please donate if at all you can. This is a full time job for myself, and my income is extremely limited. Every penny helps. I’m a single parent and I’m no longer afraid to say that I struggle. Thank you so much!