I arrived for our weekly demo a few minutes late, I unexpectedly met a friend of mine who wanted to join us this morning. I was so happy to see her because she has been a tremendous support to myself regarding my personal life.
I had a tough few years and both her and her brother who has sadly passed away were a tremendous support to both myself and my daughter. It cheered me up no end seeing her.
As we approached the Jobcentre out of nowhere Gordon had appeared and there was a small crowd of people waiting for help, advice and food parcels. My first job was to talk to them all individually and assess what their situation is and what help that they can access locally.
Some don’t want to approach local organisations for whatever reason but I do talk to them every week and one day I will succeed in getting them there. This can be hard work and I’ve built up a rapour with them so I’m keeping everything crossed.
Today seemed very hard, the requests for help and also just conversation was very high.
We now have people that used to attend Stalybridge Jobcentre requiring advice and solidarity. Most of them commented once again that they couldn’t believe the difference between Ashton Jobcentre and Stalybridge, there were also numerous complaints about the security guards. It is very daunting walking in that building.
I spoke to a young man whom I had helped a while ago. When I first met him he was down on his luck and having a very hard time. This was also compounded with the fact that he had addiction issues. He wasn’t getting the support that he needed and was like a fish out of water. Being homeless as well made his life unbearable, but we stood with him, didn’t judge him and ensured that he received the help that he needed and also gave him the strength and support to do so.
This is why we do these demos, and it also gives us hope..
He is an amazing young man. He gave me full permission to record the video below. I’m so proud of him.
Today was extremely busy and I don’t think that we had handed so many leaflets out for a long time. It’s a good job that we had arranged for a re print with some edits made to the back page to make them clearer to read. I think that we might use these up in record time at this rate.
I’m taking a lady to her ESA medical on Wednesday next week so she came to meet me to have a chat. She’s quite understandably very nervous. I will ensure that she gets the support that she needs on that day.
It’s taken me a long time to build up her trust also. I’m really hoping that she passes her medical but we know how hard that is don’t we.
I spoke to two very young girls that were having to use the Jobcentre, one of them had an appointment the other wanted to go in with her friend for support but was sent out of the Jobcentre by the security guards. She was informed of her right to do so and was given a copy of this in writing so that she could show them next time.
I spoke to an older lady who was leaving the Jobcentre out of breath and obviously in poor health. I informed her that given her circumstances she could apply to claim ESA and she should do so with the upmost urgency. She has to now travel miles to get to Ashton Jobcentre and I am very worried about her ability to do this, and also the cost. She is struggling so I handed her a food parcel and explained that we are there every week if she wants to talk to us. I also handed her a leaflet with details of other local organisations that might be able to help her.
Every person that we spoke to today that had previously been using Stalybridge Jobcentre were struggling in some way. I did alert people that this would cause immense suffering but it fell on deaf ears.
We also didn’t see any DWP staff members protesting about this. Not one. Maybe they were deployed elsewhere so weren’t that concerned with loosing their jobs there. This will be remembered if the same staff ever approach us to support one of their picket lines. I doubt that this will ever happen though.
I spoke to a young lady who was with her mother and her baby. They looked stressed and muttered something about how their benefits always being changed. They didn’t go into any details though they were in a rush to attend their appointment. We did however inform her of her right to have her mother with her for support.
I also had to do a very short notice demo for Radio 5 Live on Tuesday. So I went down armed with leaflets to do so.
It’s always a different atmosphere when I do impromptu demos. The Jobcentre immediately turned off their automatic door opening system as soon as they saw me. I’m no threat to them at all, I really am not. I’m a middle aged lady with a bad back and their behaviour sometimes strikes me as ridiculous.
That morning I spoke to a woman who was struggling with being on Universal Credit whilst her husband works on a zero hour contract. The Jobcentre are demanding that she also finds work, but with two children and never knowing what hours he is working its near impossible to find childcare. She also has no family in England to help her.
I spoke to a man who was in obvious distress and quite rightly so. His Jobcentre advisor was giving him the runaround, and trying every trick in the book to sanction him. He had done his job search, showed her but his advisor still told him that he was going to be sanctioned. This man was very vulnerable and his advisor knew this, which makes it even worse. He became angry which is also very understandable, so I did my best to calm him down and thankfully it worked.
I also spoke to a man who had previously had a struggle with his advisor who had tried to make him claim Universal credit instead of the JSA that he is entitled to claim under his circumstances. Not only would he have been much worse off financially, it wouldn’t have done his mental health much good either. Luckily he had stood his ground and won.
I spoke to lots of people that morning, and all were thankful for the advice and leaflets given to them.
I was freezing cold and extremely tired that evening but it was worth it because more people recieved the help that they needed.
This is just a few of the people that have been helped this week, can you imagine how many people are desperate for help up and down the country every day? This is an issue that certainly isnt being spoken about enough and it does feel like no one cares about them. Are they not worthy enough to make their issues become a priority?
I stand in solidarity with DPAC and agree that one and a half questions at PMQs this week in parliament is not enough, not by a long shot. I fully support Jeremy Corbyn, don’t misunderstand me, but people are dying every day as a result of these punitive measures being directed towards the disabled and the poor. Their voices need to be heard.
How many deaths will it take?
I’m sorry for the short blog, I’m tired and it feels like I never stop.
I’ve also started a regular vlog on YouTube to coincide with my blog. This week will be my first vlog and here is the link if you would like to watch it.
Please share my blog as widely as possible. I really do appreciate my readers that already do this.
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9 thoughts on “Today’s demo. Tuesdays extra demo.”
I’ve been hearing of people in my area getting sent on yet another dreadful back-to-work scheme called ‘Get Up And Go’ run by another of those awful Welfare-to-Work companies called Standright (or something like that, maybe it’s Standstraight). I hope to God I don’t get sent on it. I find such schemes very stressful & depressing. Been told changes are being made in my Jobcentre (again) & I’ll be seeing a different Adviser on another floor, so anything could happen.
Carol, if you remember a few years ago a lady took the DWP to court, won then Ian Duncan Smith changed the law on the same day which then overruled her victory. The lady was a graduate and was volunteering at a museum, this was giving her the work experience that she needed to find work in the future. The Jobcentre demanded that she stop doing that immediately and start volunteering at Poundland. The DWP have a workfare contract with that awful business. Anyway she wasn’t happy and took them to court, she won and they changed the law. So in the end she didn’t win. This is how crooked and devious they are, and they only want people to volunteer at places that they approve of. I remember the good old days where you were able to find a volunteer placement yourself. Now it’s just unpaid labour.
Absolutely Trev, this is very true. As an advisor told me one day ‘We aren’t here to help you’ and that is completely true. Their remit is not to help, it’s in their job description I’m sure. They will put constant obstacles in front of you and they do this purposely. It is a game to them, but survival for us. They see us as fair game thats for sure
Sounds pretty much typical of the Jobcentre. Theyre not there to help you, theyre there to place obstacles in your path & to make you jump through as many pointless hoops as possible, simply because they can. I gave up trying to reason with them long ago. It’s just a game & you have to play along if you want to keep your benefits, though you may lose your dignity and sanity in the process. No matter what you do theyre never satisfied and never will be until you sign off. Ive done it all – voluntary work, unpaid work placements, work experience, training courses (just done Manual Handling yet again today), endless jobsearch, weekly signing, mandatory work experience (ie community service), the Work Programme, Skills Conditionality, etc.etc. it never ends.
Here’s a new one: being threatened by a job centre official for doing too much voluntary work. I have had to claim universal credit now my contributory jobseekers allowance has run out. I use Oldham job centre.The “job coach” I saw today told me that I had been doing voluntary work for too long (I’ve been volunteering at Salford Unemployed Centre since December last year) because I hadn’t got a job from it yet and she was going to “send me on a course” instead. I’m on a short fuse these days so I gave her an instant ear bashing for cheek, ignorance, and because the people I help at Salford UCRC are often ones whom the DWP has tried to make destitute and homeless. I’ve had two mentally ill people who have been sanctioned for 10 months in the past month. She all but put her fingers in her ears, said she wouldn’t listen to anything “political”. It transpired that she had no clue what kind of ‘course’ she could send me on and she hadn’t bothered to read my records on the job centre’s computer system before she saw me. This has details of my qualifications, previous jobs and job titles, what voluntary work I am doing and that it has been endorsed as legitimate (because it’s for a charity) and a few other things like my state of health. All things a “job coach” would need to know if they really do intend to “help you get work”, as this idiot then tried to make out. She said she has 100 customers and so she hasn’t got to know them all yet. Yeah? I can have more than a 100 clients when I am in full time work and I always take a few minutes to read their file before I see them, so I can remember who they are and what I was doing for them. That is fundamental when you have a lot of people on the books. I have made three complaints about the job centre/DWP since the start of this year. They have so far concluded one and paid me compensation. After today I now have cause to make at least two more. I’m aiming to clock up as many as I can find a reason to make. Call it reverse harassment! If anybody wants to make a complaint about the job centre, which can be done in parallel to making an appeal, the address is DWP, North West Complaints Team, Kinglake House, Shenstone Street, Liverpool L7. They did used to be very effective at finding a solution to complaints in short order. I find they are now taking longer than they used to. I can’t say I’m surprised. I should mention that the way to make a complaint most effective is to conclude it by saying what you what them to do about it. And do be prepared to take it all the way to the Parliamentary Ombudsman.
Thanks Carol, thats awful and it’s true. They will try and punish you for doing too much voluntary work and also if you do this voluntary work at a place that isn’t ‘approved” by them. In other words they only want people to volunteer at places that they have an established relationship with. This place will also receive the benefits that the DWP sends them. Also Job Coaches rarely look at what your qualifications are and what jobs that you are suitable for. Their remit is to take everyone off any type of benefit by any means possible. Don’t forget that they have targets for this. They don’t read a persons file, or look them up on the computer. Its all about rubber stamping and filling targets etc, remember they care nothing for any claimant nothing. They aren’t allowed to. As for complaints, its a very good idea to make complaints, although I doubt that anything does come of them. But it does rattle their feathers. What they don’t like, and they really hate is if a person make a complaint to their MP, who then in sequence makes a complaint to the regional manager, area managers, manager and supervisors. They really hate this. Complain about everything that they do wrong. But the MP is very important, because believe me they really really hate it. This is because they are then held accountable by an outside body and at times parliament.
Reblogged this on The Night Owl and commented:
Yet another example of the sheer good will, of these wonderful people who, like Charlotte, help so many people out in their struggles with the DWP!
Reblogged this on campertess.
Charlotte, are you a clairvoyant?