I can understand if you are fed up of my complaining, but this is what it is like, week in, week out. Nearly four years later and after much complaining myself and my colleagues are still here, helping people. It’s a travesty that we still need to isn’t it.
I arrived at Ashton jobcentre mid phone call. I was talking to a colleague. As usual there were people waiting for help, although it was a bit slower than usual. The DWP has a habit of changing a claimants time to sign on, just to frustrate them I think. They like to disrupt a persons routine as much as possible and to make things difficult. I’m certain that this is done to keep people on their toes, and is a constant reminder that big brother is always watching them.
Remember, once a person is caught up in the system their life isn’t their own anymore. Their every action, thought and very being belongs to the DWP. To comply is the most important thing, and even when they give a claimant a wrongful claimant commitment they are too scared to question it. The mantra must be repeated, “I must comply, I must comply”. If they don’t they stand a good chance of loosing everything. Their health, sanity, self respect, family and their home.
Rarely is a case straight forward to deal with because the system isn’t straightforward. It’s purposely designed to be complicated and to make people suffer. Sometimes I think that the government would like them to disappear, well everyone that isn’t of any use to them in any way. They are quick to ensure that claimants have to undergo their awful work programme and workfare (work for nothing) schemes. They profit highly from these, and so do the directors of these companies and businesses.
Today was particularly awful for a lady and her partner that we have been helping and giving support to. They had finally, after months of waiting been allowed to claim Universal Credit that they were entitled to. Having a baby recently had complicated things, and although signposted they like to speak to us because we are trained to help, and they also trust us. Trust is a massive issue, more than you would think. The DWP sucks any trust that a person had in anyone away, so we build this trust up. And I’m proud of the work that we do.
I saw them dash into the Jobcentre, I knew that this wasn’t their regular signing on day and they looked very rushed and stressed, so I asked them what was wrong? Could we help them in any way?
Their problem wasn’t caused by them, the very flawed Universal Credit system had taken them off the system without their knowledge and the Jobcentre staff were far from helpful. The system does this sometimes and when it does it’s devastating. When your only source of income is taken away, your lifeline it’s the worst thing that can happen. After some advice, she went back into the building and they actually let her use a telephone to phone the Universal Credit system up and to sort it out.
Common sense would say that an ‘advisor’ should do this for them, but like my readers will know, the DWP aren’t known for their common sense and compassion, but at least she was allowed to use a telephone. I’m sure that our presence helped with this.
After a long telephone call, she was told that their claim will be started as a new one and they will have to wait for their first payment. It’s just not good enough. She has children to feed. But huzzah they advised her that she can get a ‘loan’ off them whilst their claim is waiting to be processed. A loan that has to be taken back upon her first payments and concurrent ones. They decide the rate. She has no choice to accept. As a result her payments will ensure that she will be forced to live on much less than she should be doing. It’s a trap that most Universal Credit claimants fall into out of necessity.
We spoke to a WASPI lady, a 60yr old lady that has been told that she has to take part in the work programme. This lady is 60 years old, but looks much older. she’s worked all her life and has been reduced to having to do this. We sympathised with her, because there’s not a lot else that we can do. The DWP show no respect for age like we do. But she was very glad to see a friendly face.
We spoke to a homeless chap, who is managing to get by. He has no substance or alcohol abuse issues, and as a result he keeps away from situations and places where there are these issues. I did signpost him to local organisations, but it’s up to him if he goes to these places. Some deal with the issues that he wants to steer clear of so it’s difficult for him. We can’t force anyone to engage with a certain organisation and nor should we. We get to know people, gain their trust and then maybe they can be persuaded to do so. But whatever decision that they make we will be there for them, because like I’ve said not one persons situation is straight forward, its usually complicated and we understand that.
We spoke to a young lady who is also a carer for her mother. We had seen her briefly last week as she wheeled her mum into the Jobcentre. Once again we asked if they were ok, their response was that they wern’t ok. The young ladies advisor had told her that she has to look for full time work, even though she is a full time carer. We gave her the correct information and advice regarding this and they entered the Jobcentre.
Thankfully they wern’t in too long. they had taken our advice and had seen a much nicer ‘advisor’ this time. Believe me some advisors can be more vindictive than others. Most likely because they are target driven.
They left with a smile, some good advice and a food parcel because they are struggling. This isn’t because they aren’t claiming everything that they can claim, it’s because people simply aren’t given enough to live on.
I spoke to a man who is sanctioned and who has a relative living with him who’s had failed his ESA medical. . I do signpost him every week, but he has trouble engaging with some organisations. He trusts us, Good news though, he will hopefully be receiving his first payment next week, and I’m so happy that he is.
Today he was too scared to stand in front of the Jobcentre, he didn’t want to be seen and we get a lot of people that are like this. They feel that the DWP are watching them all the time and they aren’t wrong are they.
We spoke to many people with many different issues. We have received training to help people through this awful system, and we have also had years of experience doing this. In my spare time I also check for legislation changes and converse with other groups such as DPAC who are a tremendous moral support to myself.
We do signpost people, this isn’t as easy as people think. Like I’ve said before lots of people targeted by the Jobcentre find it hard to trust anybody, and certain situations can trigger anxiety etc.
I spoke to a man leaving the Jobcentre who told me that he was from a work programme provider. I explained that I know exactly how these places are ran and what it’s like for the people forced to attend. I couldn’t let this opportunity slip, so I asked him what their employment rates are. How many actually gain decent employment after attending. He couldn’t really answer, which was no surprise because its all about the money not the person isn’t it.
We were joined today by the gang from The Wigan pier project, this is a project ran in conjunction with the Daily Mirror, and is being done to highlight the similarities between George Orwell’s book The Road To Wigan Pier and modern times. The similarities are astounding and it was lovely to meet them. They showed great comapssion and understanding and I’m sure that their story will be really good.
Tomorrow is the start of the summer holidays in my area and as you will have read in the newspapers, more children than ever will be going hungry. It’s abhorrent that the government quite happily ensures that children will be hungry. I’m expecting the demand on our help could well be higher, but we will be there for them.
I was donated a kindle fire, that was donated to me to a jobseeker to make their job searching easier. It’s not easy having to sit in Libaries and other suchlike places using their computers to do this. Having a bit of independence to complete their job searches on their own is a massive tool to empowerment. That is if they know exactly what their requirements are. I gave the kindle to D for himself and his mother to use. It will free their life up a bit, and they can now go to a cafe, or even Ikea to do this.
Good news though! Pat a very talented member of our team has made a fantastic new banner for our four year anniversary which is coming up in the first week of September. It’s amazing and it will catch peoples attention. I will post details about this nearer the time.
I need to apologise to the team for my rather stressed mood today. The summer holidays are looming and every now and then i feel like I’m getting nowhere quickly. Thank goodness that the campaign is going well though and that’s thanks to everyone that supports and reads my blog. Thank you all so much.
I couldn’t take any photos today again I was far too busy. I’m going to really try next week, and I apologise. But this is a cracker isn’t it. Yes they’ve made a massive difference to the life chances of people throughout the country haven’t they… their life chances have been evaporated.
I’ll end it on this note. A young man who had been made homeless today due to thoughtless and inconsiderate rulings made by a local social housing provider said this. ” I went in for help, they didn’t give me any. I went to housing options, they looked at me like I was a piece of rubbish, just like the Jobcentre did. I was given a piece of paper and that’s it. no one wanted to listen to me, they both just wanted rid of me. It’s wrong, I’m not a criminal, and now I’m homeless”
This man was referred to a local homeless charity, but we did show him compassion and understanding and a food parcel to keep him going whilst he sorts everything out.
I had to stop him and ask him what had happened though, rarely does anyone voluntarily come out with this information straight away. People feel ashamed, and they might think that no one else cares. But we do and we will always care. A lot of my time is spent asking people if they are ok, and also at times running after people who are in an angry state. I’ve mentioned this in a previous blog post.
Keep safe out there folks, I’m thinking of you all.
Big shoutouts to Kate Belgrave, Keith Ordinary Guy, DPAC, Unite Community, and everyone who reads and shares this blog.
Please donate help keep the blog and campaign going if you can. If not please share. It’s important that we keep talking about this all the time. This has become a full time job for myself, and anyone spending any time with me will attest to that.
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