Before the demo started I went for a cuppa at the local cheap cafe to both warm up and to have a chat with any antendees before we start. I was right to do so as a chap that we speak to regularly saw me there and had a chat in the warm.
More or less as soon as I arrived, so did the food parcels and other members of the group. There was already a queue of people waiting for them which is always sad to see. They all went within half an hour, all to people that genuinely need them.
We don’t judge people, nor ask too many questions that aren’t benefit related. And it’s best that way. We gain the trust of most people and that can only be a good thing.
We were stopped by quite a few people, but it was a bit quieter than usual, probably because of the school holidays. But still too many people are forced to enter the Jobcentre, and it’s noted that far too many older people that should be claiming their pensions are having to do so.
Today’s mood was rather low, the cold weather didnt help. Too many people were telling us about their, or a relatives experiences of being sanctioned. We do get a lot at Ashton Jobcentre and the whole sanctioning system, is in my eyes inhumane.
A man that I had advised last year stopped to talk to us. Last year he had been sanctioned because he didn’t receive a letter from the DWP . This does happen a lot and I have wrote about this before in an earlier blog.
He appealed against that as advised, and after a long period managed to win his appeal. If it wasm’t for this young mans strength of character and determination I don’t think that he would have seen the process through. He had to jump over all sorts of hurdles, and it shouldnt be like this.
Anyway, this young man is now subject to attending a workprogramme scheme. These workprogramme schemes are set up by private organisations, paid very well by the Government, to supposedly help people back into work. They are also supposed to teach computer skills, and to do CV building.
Well, after experiencing the workprogramme myself, and for any readers that have had to endure this, it couldnt be further than the truth. Please scroll down to a previous blog to read about my experience of the awful workprogramme.
Anyway, this young man has been placed at a workprogramme facility in Oldham, which is a town away from Ashton, and he lives outside of Ashton so he has to get two busses there and two back. They are supposed to pay the bus fare for attendees, but they wont pay for an any bus daysaver.
For anyone living in Tameside you will realise that its very hard to find the ability to travel using just the one bus company. There are two main bus companies and they all run different routes, which makes things extremely difficult. So as a result he has to walk half of the way and then get the one bus that he is “allowed” to get.
To add to this indignity, the workprogramme provider refuses to repay the money spent on bus fares with simple pound coins and notes. For example, it costs him £8 in bus fare, he has to prove that hes bought tickets, and they then give him his money back in 10ps, 20ps, the odd 50p and pennies. I find this disgusting.
To start with there are plenty of workprogramme organisations in Ashton. There is simply no need to make him travel all that way. I’m sure thats been dine purposely just to make things difficult for him.
To hand him his money like that is appalling. It’s degrading and its their way of engraving into his psyche that he is unworthy and how dare he ask for his bus fare costs to be reimbursed.
Another issue is that to attend, he has to have the money upfront for the bus fares. If he doesn’t attend he will get sanctioned. All workprogramme facilities refer people for sanctions, the DWP simply tick the box at the other end. It’s a no win situation.
These workprogramme organisations get paid thousands by the government simply to do nothing. One thing that they are good at though, is to degrade and humiliate the people using them. It’s scandalous, and I’m certain that there is a high level of fraud occurring within these organisations.
We spoke to a lady that works at a local Asda store. She was enquiring about joining a union, so we advised her on how to do this. She said that people are scared of joking a union whilst working as Asda. They won’t join because the bosses don’t like it. She said that she will be joining one though. Good on her.
Sorry for the lack of new photos, I didnt have the time to take many sadly.
Today was hard, not only because of the weather, but because of the low spirits of the people coming in and out of the Jobcentre.
Doing this for around three and a half years sometimes takes its toll on me. But carry on I will!
Many thanks to everyone that attended today. It was fab seeing you all, you really are fantastic.
Many thanks to everyone that reads this blog, and who supports us and myself personally. It does mean ALOT. Thank you!
Thanks to Pauline and the group We Shall Overcome for the food parcels.
Although many of us are members of unite Community, we are still an independent group, which we like because we are open to all and we are free to do our own thing. We do like this!
Please share, like, or donate if possible. Writing this blog, campaigning and everything that is entailed with that has certainly taken over my life to a great extent. It really is appreciated thank you!