It’s supposed to be the season to be jolly isn’t it.. well that’s what they keep telling us.. They being the media in general and the community, except that it isn’t a season to be jolly, not for the people that I spoke to today. Most of them didn’t have a Christmas, many that did spent it alone and it was dire. That’s the best way of describing it.
Temperatures have plummeted yet again, and ice was thick on the ground when I set off from my home for the demo. It’s supposed to be a quiet period, the period between Christmas and New Year, and it is for many, however when you are unemployed and are forced to claim Universal Credit and the like job searches still have to be completed, forms still have to be filled in and life just carries on as normal, well as normal as normal can get if you know what I mean.
I had my daughter in tow today and we arrived early because she wanted to buy some warm drinks for the homeless folk that are in our local town. She’s got a good heart she really has, and we did just that because even at the age of 11 she realises that it’s important to keep warm.
As we were strolling through the shopping arcades I was approached by a young couple that have had just about the longest run of bad luck that I’ve ever known. When disaster strikes, it certainly strikes at their door.
They and their children had been illegally evicted from their home just before Christmas and they have been forced to stay at a friends 1 bedroomed flat for the time being, because everywhere was shut for the Christmas period. It seems that their landlord certainly had taken a leaf out of Scrooges handbook, and illegally evicted them from their home whilst they were out. They weren’t even allowed to access their possessions, clothes and Christmas presents for the children. They had lost everything including access to their mail.
They have taken advice from Shelter who have appointed them a solicitor and they have started the legal proceedings. I can’t go into further details here because I don’t want to hamper this, however from what I was told this was illegal, the police are involved and they have a solicitor. It’s a start.
The woman was nearly crying when she was telling me about it all, about how awful Christmas was for them all and it was just awful. It was then that my friend Dan arrived for a surprise visit, and I think their story even shocked him. She told me that she was going to go to Ikea and fill a bottle full of milk. I told her that we would help them and we did just that. For crying out loud we are the 5th or 6th (can’t remember this exactly so please forgive me) and people are living a life like this. But hey, it’s ok because we can now have blue passports, well the people that can afford them that is. It’s sickening isn’t it.
Dan had travelled miles to join us, and both myself and Gordon were certainly relieved to have him with us today. He came laden with extra food parcels that were all distributed.. Thanks Dan. Anyway I digress.
I spoke to a man who had been looking attentively at the food parcels. He must have been freezing. He was wearing a very thin summer jacket and a thin summer shirt. I asked him if he was ok and did he need any help at all. He told me that he was three weeks into his long wait for his Universal Credit claim to go through. Looking at him, I doubt that if he hadn’t bumped into us today then he might not have survived the long wait for his claim to go through. I gave him food, had a good chat with him and signposted him. I asked him to come and have a chat with us next week as well if he can because a friendly word is what is needed when times are tough. I can then check if he is accessing other organisations. Sometimes this can take several weeks to happen for many different reasons.
I spoke to a young woman who went on to tell me how useless the work programme is. She’s correct, it’s awful and these so called back to work programmes actually take a lot of time away from actual job searching and attempting to improve a person’s life. They are soul destroying they really are.
I spoke to a man that is for the third time having to appeal a wrongful ESA medical assessment result. He was angry, totally understandable and we had a long discussion about the evils of the system. He took a leaflet and told me that he will be in touch with the relevant organisations.
I made comment that upon walking into the computer area of our library is akin to walking into a sea of lost souls.. Every time that I walk in there I see people that I speak to outside the Jobcentre, all looking for not suitable non existent jobs. I hope that they have been able to keep up with their job search whilst the library has been shut for Christmas. If they don’t then they will be sanctioned.
We spoke to an older chap who was waiting for his girlfriend to finish her appointment inside the Jobcentre. He hadn’t been told that he could accompany her, because she is vulnerable and has just failed her ESA assessment. They are appealing, and will be taking it to tribunal. ‘We have to do this every time’ she said. However, I did inform her of her ability to claim the appeal rate which she said that she would look into.
Another man started to speaking to me, he told me that he used to be a good employer and a fair one. He used to run a good business and had thought that he would be respected when he was older. ‘I can’t believe that I’m being treated worse than the crap underneath someone’s shoes’ he retorted. The pain in his eyes was obvious.
We handed out lots of food parcels, helped lots of people because help is still needed throughout the year. Every week my heart breaks a bit but is built up again by the people that I speak to and of course you, my readers and my Facebook and Twitter friends. You can find me on Twitter as @charlotteh71
Thank you for all your support, it keeps me and the team going. But most of all it keep the people going that have to endure this cruel system, and it’s cruel beyond measure.
This week was tough, maybe one day things will get better and I pray hard for that day.
Hi folks, please help me to continue with my blog and campaign work. Thank you!