Thursday seemed very quick to arrive this week, it felt like I had only just let the Jobcentre the week before. I packed up my bag and prepared for today’s demo.
After dropping my daughter off at school, I had a cuppa with a friend at the cheap cafe and was then greeted by a lady whom we had helped previously. She was ok, didn’t need any help but just wanted a chat and some company. I bought her a cuppa and we had a chat about how she is and how her life is. I then went to the Jobcentre as it had quickly reached 10am.
As I arrived it appeared to be quiet, some days are like that and I’m sure that the Jobcentre like to switch claimants signing on days so that they don’t speak to us. No worries though, because we always get round this and our leaflets do reach lots of people. I’m nothing but persistent in the quest for fairness and justice for everyone having to use the Jobcentre, infact any Jobcentre in the country. The system stinks, isn’t fit for purpose and they know this. Those currently in power have a sadistic streak I’m sure.
Gordon arrived with the food parcels which we handed out to those who are in need. We also signposted people if appropriate, and also we can’t force them to go to other organisations for help, but we do our best and that’s all that we can do isn’t it.
Roy arrived and we had a quick chat, then Nigel arrived and a lady who occasionally joins us. This was brilliant! Seeing Nigel was a surprise because I haven’t seen him for a long time now. Anyway I distributed leaflets out amongst team members who all proceeded to hand them to claimants walking in and out of the Jobcentre.
Out of nowhere it seemed, the rain started to fall and it became slightly colder. Awful weather for anyone who is street homeless at the moment. Once a person becomes wet and can’t dry out life becomes even worse. Please spare a thought for them and maybe had them a cheap plastic poncho if you can. Keeping dry has to be a priority.
We were then stopped by a man coming out of the Jobcentre. We had previously advised him to appeal his ESA decision, and told him how to do this and where to go. We also provided support for him outside the Jobcentre. The good news is that he had won his appeal and he wanted to let us know. I was so happy, his life will be so much easier for a while now, and this is also why we help people.
We handed leaflets out to lots of claimants, and a lady stopped us and said that she had made a point of coming to speak to us. She wanted to thank us for helping her appeal against her disabled son’s failed ESA medical. She took this all the way to tribunal upon our advice, and after being in the tribunal court for less than ten minutes she was informed that she had won her case and the previous decision was overturned immediately. This is a good example of why everyone should appeal decisions even if it appears very daunting. It is worth it, but remember get help with this if you can.
More leaflets were handed out, and Roy went to buy us all a cuppa. It doesn’t seem much but a warm drink can lift our morale no end, and of course warm us up!
A lady then stopped me. When I had seen her previously she was very upset. All of her benefits had been stopped and she didn’t know what to do and where to turn. Gordon gave her a leaflet and spoke to her giving her the advice that she needed. She also had taken a food parcel because she was desperate for food. Luckily she took our advice and her benefits were reinstated. Her face was a picture, she was so happy despite being very nervous about entering the Jobcentre. I got a hug, Gordon got a hug and Roy would have too if he wasn’t off buying us all a cuppa. We all started to smile, laugh and celebrate this victory.
So folks, we don’t just stand outside the Jobcentre doing nothing. We help people when they are feeling at their lowest. We become their friend if they haven’t got a friend and if we can’t help, or they require more help than we can give we signpost to other local organisations. We do this because we care, because we know how vindictively evil this system is and how hard it is to survive it. I still can’t believe that we are still doing this four years down the line. I’ve only missed two demos, one due to my daughter being ill, and one due to being snowed in. I’m dedicated. Big thank you to Gordon who has just had his one year anniversary of joining us! He’s a very dedicated man as are the other memebers of the team.
There was also the feeling of apprehension coming from people using the Jobcentre, a man who had cycled miles to Ashton Jobcentre because Stalybridge has been shut down. He told me that the staff inside the Jobcentre are totally unsympathetic except for one advisor, whom shall remain anonymous because if their manager finds out I’m sure they will be sent for a disciplinary just for being kind and spending time with a claimant.
Other people had had to walk a long way, been given wrong appointment times, been told to come back an hour later and basically had been messed around by their advisor. Sadly this is all par of the course, because doing this is part of being in the system.
Many thanks to my friends, comrades and supporters for having the patience wit me this week and giving me a shoulder to cry on. I really do appreciate everything that you do and I love you all. Sounds corny, but it’s true. I couldn’t do this without you all.
Many thanks also to everyone who has read, shared and discussed my blog this week. I update my blog every week, sometimes more than once.
It’s important to keep a record of everything that the DWP inflicts upon people. One day, hopefully someone will be made to pay for the suffering and deaths that have happened as a result of this cruelty.
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