Hi readers, I thought that this weeks demo would be quiet. We were low on numbers due to the cold weather and illness, and I had mistakenly thought that we might be quiet. I was wrong.
I arrived a few minutes early and much to my surprise Gordon was already there waiting with the food parcels. It was freezing and I was wearing many layers and thermals, as was Gordon. I do appreciate that I am lucky to have them and thank you. Most of the people that I speak to are wearing very unsuitable clothing, thin cotton jackets, cotton trousers, shorts and even summer shoes. Appropriate clothing is a luxury that many cannot afford, and this government should be ashamed that the poorest are not able to clothe themselves appropriately. I’m not talking about fancy clothes either, even a winter coat would be a start.
As soon as I arrived, the food parcels more or less disappeared to people whom had failed their ESA medicals. One of whom had already lodged a mandatory reconsideration, one whom had already requested an appeal, and the final one who was just about to start the process. Not one of these people are able to work, they are basically at the whim of a system that cares nothing for them or their disabilities and illnesses. And the worst thing about this is that they know that the whole system regards them as being worthless, that the government would like them to disappear because they aren’t wanted. I do my very best to tell them the opposite. That they are important, that they are loved and that worth more than those in government at the moment. It’s hard work trying to keep people going when the system and the media are so set against them from the start off.
Good news! A man that I have been talking to for over for years now has finally had an offer of work. He had a lengthy conversation with Gordon, and he is quite rightly delighted with this news. I must say that he has done this off his own back, and had not taken the advice off the various work programmes that he had been forced to attend. All of them had told him that he must not put his qualifications on his CV because it would put employers off employing him, nor should he apply for jobs relevant to his qualifications. Luckily he ignored this and hopefully he will soon be starting employment.
I spoke to a man whom I had previously spoken to. He updated me on the progress of his case, having previously contacted his local MP. He told me that the advice that I had given was correct and that his MP had helped to sort out his DWP related problem straight away. Take it from me, the DWP do not like any form of communication from MPs. They know that there will be a record of it, and that any query will be chased up. If you have a good MP then it’s always wise to go and visit them.
I spoke to a man who had failed his ESA medical, but unfortunately I hadn’t seen him until today. He was quite open in telling me that he is an alcoholic who is trying to recover, and that he has recently had a stroke. Unfortunately he had failed his medical, and was not claiming JSA. Thank goodness we have the short reprieve from Universal Credit. He’s had no money for a couple of weeks but should receive a payment next week. I did advise him of his legal rights and encouraged him to attend a local support organisation, as I have everyone else, but many aren’t ready yet. Some are though and thats a good start.
I spoke to two older ladies, both with walking sticks. They went into the Jobcentre in the misguided hope of getting some advice. They didn’t get any advice from them but they did from myself. The sick note belonging to one of the ladies husbands had gone missing despite handing it into the Jobcentre. I gave appropriate advice and asked her if they were ok for food etc. She told me that she was ok, that they were managing to survive on her money but its a struggle. This is not the way that we should be treating older people is it? They deserve much more respect than this.
I spoke to the boyfriend of a lady who had recently failed her ESA medical. Her child died not long ago, and understandably she is still grieving, is still suffering from this loss and as her boyfriend told me is going through so much mental anguish that she’s finding it hard to cope with everyday life. Shes on the waiting list for therapy but until she get a place shes basically on her own.
She had failed her ESA medical, and is now claiming JSA. Please can I state that I hadn’t had the opportunity to speak to her before the medical, to give advice or to take her, hence the reason why she is now claiming JSA. Thank goodness for the break form Universal Credit.
Her boyfriend told me that she had attended her signing on appointment and saw her advisor. She informed her advisor of her loss, that she was finding it very hard to cope and of her failed ESA medical. His answer was this. No sympathy, the opposite. And what I heard disgusted me. He told her that she should just put some make up on and get out there. Yes those were his words. So now make up is the new miracle cure for the death of a child, and of course this is dismissing the fact that not all women want to wear make up. It was entirely inappropriate that this comment was made in the first place, and her partner lodged a complaint which so far has been ignored. I advised him to visit or telephone his MPs office and they will make an official complaint. Their MP is a good one so hopefully he will do this.
We live in an age where this kind of treatment is becoming normalised and accepted. The media are actively promoting it as are the right wing newspapers. Please folks, let’s remember that it shouldn’t be this way, that no one deserves to be treated like this and we must fight against it.
I spoke to a lady who has been forced to attend a daily access to work course… The course lasts for 30 minutes per day. Yes 30 minutes, and she has to travel from another town to get to the Jobcentre. This is costing her £4 a day in bus fares because it’s too far to walk, and all for a useless course that isn’t teaching her anything that she doesn’t know already. We must not forget that the main aim of these courses is to remind people of their so called place in society, that their so called boss is the DWP and they must obey their every command. Its scandalous.
I spoke to a woman that wants me to accompany her to an ESA medical. Unfortunately it is on the same date as I am taking someone else, so we are rearranging this for a time when I can accompany her and meet her beforehand. I felt awful but I can’t be in two places at once, and she wants me to take her. I don’t mind so hopefully she will contact me asap.
I spoke to a man who was late handing in his sick note because he had an epileptic fit. He had also failed his ESA medical and I advised him of his legal rights and of the appropriate action that he should take.
Lastly, I spoke to a man who had been told that he had an appointment with his advisor to scan his ESA documentation. The appointment had been made, he had double checked it before he set off from home but when he arrived at the Jobcentre they told him that there was no such appointment. They told him that his appointment didn’t exist. It did and he is now taking appropriate action, and is also doing so with his ESA documentation. This disgusts me but it doesn’t surprise me one bit because this does happen a lot. Sadly it’s become the norm. But he was given good advice.
I spoke to many people today, we helped lots of people. I chatted to folk who just wanted to chat, had a lovely conversation with some friends that I had spoken to on Facebook, checked to see if everyone was ok upon entering and leaving the Jobcentre and handed out food parcels. Gave some folk some milk etc. It’s hard work, especially when it’s winter, freezing cold and there’s not much hope out there. But I will never stop helping folk, nor will my fellow campaigners.
EDIT: Thank you to the nice and helpful advisor working at Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre this morning. I’ve heard a few good reports about how helpful, polite and understanding you were. This appears to be a rarity, and I won’t name you in case of repercussions but thank you.
Thank you to Gordon for surviving the whole two hours in the freezing cold and to Christine and John for arriving later. Your comradeship is really appreciated. Also get well soon Roy!!
We are low in numbers in winter and we always welcome new members, even if you visit for just five minutes it will give us the confidence boost that we and the people forced to use the Jobcentre need. So please come and visit!
We will be back next week and every week.
Hi folks, please help me to continue with my blog and campaign work. Thank you!
Thank you to all my readers and to everyone that has and does support the campaign and my blog. It really means the world to me. Thank you.