Well I don’t know where to start today. To say that it’s been busy is an understatement, so I will start at the beginning because it’s a good place to start.
For a change it was sunny and warm. You might not realise the difference that this makes. It’s hard enough doing these demos and the bad weather always makes things worse.
As I was enjoying my previous demo cuppa, which has become a ritual to myself I received a message. We had extra food parcels on the way and that lifted my mood. They had been passed on by a group called Street Treats and they do a weekly food stand in Manchester City Centre every Thursday starting at 7pm I think. They do this in piccadilly Gardens and use donated food from supermarkets.
This put me in a better mood than I have been of late. Solidarity is out there and is appreciated.
As I arrived the first delivery of food parcels arrived. Six had been dropped off and when I say that they were taken immediately I’m not kidding. They had all gone within ten minutes. A member of the team said that this was record time.
As we were handing these out and chatting to people two lovely young researchers for BBC3 arrived. I had been expecting them, they are making a programme about young men and what it’s like to be unemployed etc. It will be a good programme and people won’t be exploited unlike channel 5 programmes.
We spoke to a middle aged man who was very unhappy. He’s unemployed and has been forced to undertake a workfare placement at Sports Direct in a nearby town.
Sounds OK you might think? Actually nothing about this is OK. Call me old fashioned if you like, but I’m a big believer in a good day’s pay for a good day’s work. People shouldn’t be exploited by these big business that can afford to pay their staff..
He told us that, quite rightly he had been promised payment of his travel expenses. It’s too far away for him to walk to. But this has been refused. Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre have told him that he won’t be getting his travel expenses until he gets a paid job with them.
Well this is a new one to me, and quite obviously a made up rule. We advised him on how to challenge this. He was angry, both about being made to work for no pay but also he had to pay for the transport costs and he had no money. He told us that he wants a paid job but not this.
A lovely man like this shouldn’t be exploited, no one should be.
The second delivery of food parcels arrived and we took them to the Jobcentre doorway. Two went straight away to a man who has been told that he has got to live off £1.50 for two weeks. Without this food I really don’t know how he would survive. He was very dishevelled and stressed. Awful but as we are all too aware they don’t care.
I spoke to a young lad, and looked after his bike whilst he went inside for his appointment. He was a lovely young man but was annoyed at the system. He told me that all he wants is to be given a decent chance in life and not a fake college apprenticeship.
As we were talking to another person outside the Jobcentre a man walked up to us. I could see he was hungry, he was looking at the food parcels as if he hadn’t ate for a long time.
He asked what we were doing and I said we were giving help, advice and food parcels out. I offered him one and he said yes. I gave him extra bread and he thanked us for our kindness.
A lady that normally collects food parcels from us was half running up the street. She was later than usual and was worried that she was too late for her food parcel. When I told her that she wasn’t she smiled and the relief on her face was evident. We gave her extra bread as well. I’ve seen her in the library desperately scurrying away trying to find non existant work on the slow computers. My heart goes out to her.
We tried to speak to a man who had been looking at the food parcels, and asked him if he wanted one. He said no, he had family. Too many people are living like this, and think that they don’t need one. It takes a lot for a person to swallow their pride and accept help, it’s very brave of them.
We spoke to so many people today, it was constant. We didnt stop for one minute. A collegue was even handing out rhubarb that she had grown on her allotment. We have become a little community of people that are caring and put others first. I really do think the world of them all.
As for myself it’s been a very busy week, stuck in meetings and the like which were all related to the demos and poverty.
Many thanks to the hosts of all events for your kind hospitality.
Also my friends have been amazing this week. To say that this is stressful is an understatement and each and every kind word means a lot.
I still haven’t arrived home. I met my amazing friend Steve who works for Welfare Rights and had a cheap cuppa. He’s a very brave man and one of my mentors. Moments like this are treasured.
Also apologies if there are any mistakes in this week’s blog. I’m writing this in Ikea on my rubbish mobile so please be kind.
Please read, share and talk about this blog. We still need to be talking about these issues. People are still dying, it hasn’t gone away although news about Brexit etc have taken over.
I’m placing a donate button below also, if anyone would like to donate its easy to do so.
It’s become a full time job for me and every share, tweet and donation really helps. Thank you!
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