Well what can I say, today’s demo was busy hectic and stressful and just about anything that could happen did happen. Ashton Jobcentre is certainly getting into the festive spirit in their sadistic way.
As I arrived at the Jobcentre a man was already waiting for me. We had spoken on the telephone the previous evening and he needed some advice, so thats what I did I gave him some advice. He requested that I accompany him to his appointment at the Jobcentre, but I couldn’t they won’t allow me inside the Jobcentre on Thursdays to represent people, even though I’m not a threat to them at all. Luckily a friend of mine arrived who said that she would gladly do this and accompanied with notes thats exactly what she did.
The gentleman that she was helping had been claiming ESA, but hadn’t received a letter notifying him of his medical. The DWP basically called him a liar, that they had no proof that he didn’t receive it so therefore they were stopping his payments. He had made a claim for a mandatory consideration but like readers will know many people get refused this also, so he is now appealing this decision.
The Jobcentre had called him in to make a claim for JSA but his advisor had told him that he was too ill to claim this so he must wait for his appeal… without any money. This happens a lot folks, but the DWP do not care, they are happy to send vulnerable people off into the world with no means of survival. He didn’t have any food, so we gave him a food parcel and referred him to other organisations in the area. I also gave him money for electric because without it he couldn’t cook the food that I had given him, nor keep warm. We are expecting some very cold weather so this is vital.
Upon attending his appointment with my colleague, he asked for a food parcel referral. He was refused on the grounds that they don’t do them. I know this to be a lie and so did my colleague so she challenged this. They repeated this on more than one occasion. They also refused to help him with much more except to give him a telephone number to phone, a number that the advisor was quite able to telephone herself. I know that this is the usual way of doing things but the system is disgusting and to deny a vulnerable person a foodbank referral is beyond disgusting and will be challenged further.
I then spoke to a man who wanted to sign our petition. He had waited 9 weeks to receive his first Universal Credit payment and he told me that he went through hell, and that he doubts that he will ever recover from this. Starving people into finding non existent work really does not work, although it does make people ill and could eventually kill them.
I spoke to a lady who was lodging with friends. She is an older lady and would love her own home but in her own words said ‘It’s not possible for me to do so. I couldn’t afford to keep my own home and at least my friends will feed me if I’m short of money. Without them I would be on the streets’
Shes been forced to sign on weekly whilst awaiting her claim for Universal Credit to go through, and she knows that this can take a long while. She was obviously distressed at having to sign on weekly and told me that she felt persecuted. Her advisor has no understanding that she cannot access a computer every day and when she does she struggles to use them. Regardless of this she still has to comply with a eight hour a day job search.
It was at that point when I was told to ‘Get a job” for the first time and that I am a scrounger. Lovely eh, but that wasn’t the only time that this happened today.
I then spoke to an older man who told me that he was having a horrible time whilst waiting for his Universal Credit payment to go through. He told me that he felt humiliated, depressed and a failure. Having to depend on foodbanks for help is the worst thing thats happened to him in his life he said. He had preciously worked and had never been unemployed before.
I was then told to ‘Get a job again, and to stop helping benefit scroungers. Why should you help them when all they need to do is to get a job. Don’t help the homeless either because they are scroungers as well.’ He then went on too say that he was unemployed but that didn’t matter, he is different. He applies for work.’ This is sadly the attitude of many and it’s not pleasant to hear. I spoke to him and gave him my opinion on the subject which I hope that he listened to and absorbed, but I doubt it somehow.
A claimant then told me of his friends experience of being sanctioned because he was having a pacemaker fitted on the day that his Jobcentre appointment had been made. He had informed them of his urgent operation, but they told him that his appointment was more important. He was sanctioned, he appealed and he won. It’s a way of punishing people and its cruel beyond measure.
It was then when an elderly lady marched over. She started shouting at ourselves and the claimants going into the Jobcentre, telling them that they were all scroungers, and that I was one as well. I asked her politely to stop shouting and to move away because she was upsetting people. She said no, she wouldn’t she wanted to have her say. A homeless chap that I know walked over and asked me if I was ok, I said yes and he gave me a hug, I really needed that. I then told her to move away, that we wern’t listening to her abuse any longer and she eventually left. We’ve met her before and she said exactly the same things that time as well, except that time her so called scrounger neighbours were the problem.
It’s important to challenge these attitudes peacefully all the time, however I can never condone violence.
As we were handing out leaflets I saw an older man trying to cross the road. He was very thin, was using a walking stick and nearly fell twice. I dashed over, helped him across the road and helped him to catch his breath. I asked him where he was going and he told me that he was going to do his shopping but had taken ill. He was really struggling. So I asked him if he would like to go home if I paid for a taxi, he said yes so I helped him into a taxi.
This all happened in the space of two hours, the weather was cold and people are really suffering out there. I wish that I had a magic wand so that I could change everything, give everyone a decent quality of life, make sure that everyone has a home to live in, food to eat and a nice warm home. It’s appalling that more and more people will be denied this before Christmas, thousands of children also. I always think about everyone who is suffering because ‘But for the grace of god go I’
A massive thank you to everyone that came to the demo today I know that I expect a lot from you.
A big thanks to Roy for bringing the next batch of leaflets.
Thank you to everyone who reads, shares and supports my blog. The past three weeks have been extremely busy and the work certainly does not end on Thursdays, for myself that is the start of yet another busy week.
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