Hello readers, and thank you for reading my blog. It always feels like Thursday comes round very quickly, and because Thursday mornings are usually very busy outside the Jobcentre thats entirely appropriate.
I’ll start with the weather, freezing cold, although not quite as cold as some other weeks and it wasn’t raining, brilliant that made a change both for us and the people having to use the Jobcentre. There’s nothing worse than being wet and cold and not having the ability to dry off.
I arrived at the Jobcentre and was almost immediately met by a lovely lady by the name of Vicky. She had travelled all the way from Salford, which is quite a distance away with some extra food parcels containing goodies such as fruit, UHT milk, margarine etc. Believe me when you have nothing these essentials become luxuries and you treasure them. Vicky was so lovely and chatted with everyone and made everyone wanting help feel at ease. Thank you Vicky so much.
I was then joined by Gordon with the food parcels, and later on Roy, who still isn’t feeling brilliant but he still came along to help people. We are all very dedicated and thank you roy.
The first person to ask for help was a woman and man whom I have mentioned in the previous blog. They are now getting support from a local organisation, and they are really benefiting from that, however they have now encountered another obstacle which has once again left them without money. She requested milk, and a food parcel, so we gave her both and she told me that she would keep in touch to keep me updated about their situation. The good news is that Shelter have helped her with a solicitor and the local organisation are also providing support. But even though the work that we all do is fantastic and is much needed, it shouldn’t distract from the fact that this should never have happened in the first place. I’m a great believer in social housing, and that everyone in need should have access to it. If we had adequate social housing then this would never have happened.
I spoke to a young man whom was shy to talk at first. I know how he feels, I would be also, but after some kind words from both myself and Vicky he opened up and told us his situation. His situation is this, he went to check his bank for his payment over Christmas and there was noting there, his bank account was empty. He managed to contact the DWP and they told him that they had decided to sanction him because they said that he had missed an appointment the PREVIOUS year. Yes folks, a year ago. He was adamant that he didnt miss an appointment, and I believe him. Why do I believe him? Because this happens a lot, far too often, and anyone who helps people like I do will tell you the same. It’s almost as if they have a sick and twisted lottery going on at DWP HQ, where they choose a person to be targeted like this. Being a young, single male with no dependants does increase his chances of winning this sick lottery and he was chosen.
He had no food over Christmas, and had to rely on the kindness of others. When I offered him some food, the first thing that he said to me was ‘I haven’t got any money, I can’t pay for this’. I told him that money isn’t needed, and tears ran down his face. He has promised to appeal this sanction, and I do feel that he stands a good chance of winning his appeal. He has also agreed to access other local organisations. At least he now has a bit of hope, hope that he previously didn’t have, that the government had taken away from him. Its abhorrent that they continue to target individuals like this, but I will continue to fight against this evil system on behalf of those who can’t.
I spoke to a street homeless man, who’s tent had been slashed over the festive period. Why and how people can get kicks from targeting vulnerable people like this is beyond me, but they do. We had a short conversation, he finds it hard to trust people, and it’s taken a couple of years for him to build his trust with me. But one step at a time, and hopefully he will start to engage with other organisations. Knowing that he is ok, is very good though, if I don’t see the usual faces around town I get worried, and I know that others do too.
We spoke to an older lady who is 63 years old. She had failed her ESA medical and has been forced to sign on. She has numerous medical conditions and there is no way that she should be forced to sign on, for heavens sake she’s 63 and should have been entitled to her pension. We advised her to appeal this decision and she told us that she hadn’t been advised of this by her advisor. She took a leaflet, and told us that she would submit an appeal as soon as possible. It’s sickening that a government can treat older people like this, it both upsets and angers me, in my eyes this can never be right, never.
I spoke to a woman and a man entering the Jobcentre. I stopped them because the man had no shoe on one foot and his ankle was twisted slightly, he was also using a makeshift walking stick. I immediately asked them if they were ok and they told me that it was their first time signing on, and they had been warned that they had to attend. Getting medical attention should have been their priority, but they were afraid that if they went their claim would be dismissed. I informed them of their rights and handed them a leaflet. But being so scared of a system that is designed to punish them, has forced them into not putting their health first. To put it simply, it’s inhumane, horrendous, well I have other words also but I don’t like swearing on here. The amount of control that the government now has over the poorest and most vulnerable in society is obscene. Their first thought is that they must comply to a system that hates them, that actively discriminates them and abuses them, much like an abusive relationship only a person cannot walk away from the system. even if they manage to find a job, it has to be a well paid, full time job and there aren’t many of them around now, especially for people that aren’t highly qualified.
I spoke to a lady who was leaving the Jobcentre after her appointment. She asked me if it was usual for the advisors to ask lots of probing questions about her children. She also told me that she was aggressive with her tone of questioning and she felt intimidated by this. I informed her, that no it isn’t usual, that her advisor should not be prying into her personal life, after all they already had all the details of her children for her claim and no further help was needed with this. She also informed me that she felt that this advisor had tried to target her from the start of her appointment, by telling her that she wasn’t fulfilling her claimant commitment. She told her advisor that she was, and she went through her weekly activity step by step proving that she was doing. She told me ‘It’s not fair, I know that I’m doing everything right, I’m not stupid. Just because I’m young and have children does not mean that I’m stupid. I’m just glad that I could prove her wrong and I challenged her, others might not have done’. In my opinion, this advisor was acting out of order, had decided that she would target this young woman and failed in her attempt to do so.
I advised her to make an official complaint and how to do so. This is very effective and if she does this, she won’t have to see that advisor again and it would make other advisors think twice about targeting her. I had to do this once and it works. If you are undergoing the same problem then please make an official complaint. If you have a decent MP then do it through them. It works and is very effective.
Even though there was only a few of us there today we helped lots of people, gave people hope, support and solidarity. We also provided food, and some warm packs that had been donated. We handed out approximately 12 food parcels in two hours. That’s a lot but they were needed and are needed every week. They are essential. and we will return next week and every week to do the same.
Many thanks to everyone who attended, you all give me hope that one day this might change. Not overnight but it might change and when you have nothing else hope does help doesn’t it. Many thanks to my readers and for everyone who supports my blog and the campaign, without you it would be hard to carry on, and I know that I don’t say it enough but THANK YOU so much.
I now have to attend to my daughter who has caught a sickness bug, so if I’m delayed in responding to you that is why. I’m hoping that it is a 24 hour bug, it’s that time of year.
Keep well everyone and solidarity to you all.
Hi folks, please help me to continue with my blog and campaign work. Thank you!