Today was the day of our yearly anniversary and we had decided on a theme… Prisoners of the DWP. Claimants are treated by the DWP like criminals and every aspect of their life is effectively controlled by them. If you don’t believe me just ask someone who is a victim of this regime. It’s cruel and horrible and has the ability to destroy a persons life at the push of a button. Hence our demo theme.
I arrived slightly early awaiting the delivery of the pasting table that we were using today, the big flask donated by Ray Woolford when he visited, and also tea, coffee etc.
I arrived early, I was expecting Roy early, but I wasn’t expecting anyone else to be but they proved me wrong, everyone was either early or on time which was amazing. Thank you folks it is appreciated it really is, you guys are my rock.
As I was setting up for our demo I was busy handing out food parcels, asking folk how they were and signposted to local organisations that are able to sit down and talk to them. We need to do this, but we offer lots of help, support compassion and solidarity. We also receive no funding from any large organisations and rely on donations.
A man stopped me and he was very angry. He told me that he was fed up of being sanctioned. He was a young man who had previously had to use Stalybridge Jobcentre to sign on but it’s been shut down so has to now use Ashton. He also wasn’t very complimentary about the staff either.
A homeless chap raced over to me and told me that his money had been stopped because he had applied for his ESA before the six month time limit so he was refused. He told me that he didn’t want to speak to any official organisation at the moment but I will keep trying. I also gave him details of the local organisations that he can access to get help.
Then we were joined by Paula Peters and Keith Walker from from the inspiring group DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts), we always offer solidarity and they do to us. We have links to a lot of the national campaigning groups throughout the country.
I was so happy to see them, and they had travelled from London to see us and some other groups. The last time that I had met Paula was at a Unite/PCS conference two years ago. She, and DPAC are amongst my heroes, they literally put their life’s on the line to protest about the way that disabled people are being treated in the UK.
We were then stopped by a man who told us that he had been sanctioned for 96 days. We wern’t clear about the reasons for the lengthy sanction but I can say this. Sanctions are mostly being given as a first option of ‘punishment’ by the DWP, it’s their first line of attack and they shouldn’t be. No one deserves to have their lifeline taken away from them by anyone and these cruel methods employed by the DWP certainly do not encourage people into work. They do the opposite, sanctions do result in deaths and that is a fact highlighted by UN reports. It’s going to become a whole lot worse, infact horrific when universal credit is rolled out universally. The impact that this will have on disabled people will certainly result in many, many deaths. The suffering will be on such a scale that it will be unpresedented. But we will continue to help people the best that we can, and I will also continue to lobby MPS, attend meetings, speak at meetings, help with tv companies that are only making positive programmes about the reality of living within this system, and of course I will contuinue to write my blog. I have also started to write my book at last.
I brought the megaphone to the demo today because it was our fourth anniversary, but we wern’t celebrating, far from it. A few of us made some speeches, mine was awful I’m afraid, but Paula’s, John’s and Christine’s speeches were amazing. Christine poem brought tears to my eyes.
There is so much more that I could write about, but I don’t want to bore you. It was a fantastic day for solidarity and support, we gave out lots and lots of help, handed out food parcels, provided hot drinks and biscuits and leaflets. We listened whilst people told us about their problems and then helped them. We showed them a kindness that hadn’t been shown to them by the Jobcentre staff. I got hugs from some people as a thank you for helping them because believe me the campaign doesn’t start and end on a Thursday. It’s more or less a full time job.
We do make a massive difference to people’s life’s and that is what we are there for, that and to campaign.
I would also like to say thank you to our supporters for all the support that you have given me and for sharing this blog. I also want to thank all of the team for just being amazing I love you all. And a special thank you for John and Christine who have been there from the start. They’ve put up with me for years and that in itself deserves a medal.
I’m tired so I’m going to end it there, and if any of the gang from Wigan Diggers read this I cannot attend because funds don’t allow but I will be watching all of the videos and supporting you from home.
Please share this blog widely, the government really don’t like people sharing information such as this, it damages their credibility, that’s if they have any left anymore.
Also please donate if you can every penny helps and is put to good use. Thank you.
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