I’m so sorry that the blog is once again late this week, Ive been extremley busy and fell behind due to being unwell late last week and not feeling well again until Tuesday this week. I shouldn’t complain because there are people far more worse off than myself as I know.
I was so glad that we didn’t have a repeat of the awful stormy, snowy weather last week. It was deadly for some and so far there could be an estimated 2,000 people that have died as a result of this very long cold spell this winter. Fuel prices have gone up, benefits cut or taken away, the benefit cap taking away money that would have been previously used for heating homes also taken away, the list is so long and I could go on for ever.
Last week, myself and others campaigned on Twitter for the DWP to issue an official statement for claimants to state that they didn’t have to attend their appointments at the Jobcentre because of the weather. They issued a statement at 6.30pm, which was far too late for many. Indeed I spoke to a man today that walked miles in the storm, cold and snow in thin clothing to attend his appointment. He hadn’t been informed that he didn’t have to attend, so in fear of being sanctioned he waited outside in the cold for over two hours. For gods sake he could have become ill or die from hypothermia. Where is the humanity? I know that some DWP staff members care, but some don’t and there lieth the problem. They need to improve their notification service and the DWP also needs to start responding to requests. Getting information from them is like getting water from a stone.
Today was very cold again and we had been threatened with snow, I was not impressed with the thought of more snow but thankfully we were spared, instead we got sleet and rain. A total nightmare for our local homeless comunity.
As Gordon and myself were taking the food parcels out from the boot of his car I was approached by a young lad. He was visibly upset. He was carrying his worldly belongings in a large Ikea bag and a carrier bag. He started crying and told me that he had just become street homeless. My heart went out to him, he was very young, vulnerable and needed help urgently. I signposted him to the local housing office, he came back and then went to our local homeless organisation.
He had also gone inside the Jobcentre to ask for help, but instead they gave him the usual piece of paper with a number on it and told him to phone a number despite him telling them that he had no phone.
He was so lovely, at the start of his adult life and to him it must have felt like the end of the road. There is no real reliable safety net for young people like this man, the government relies on every young person to have a family that will support them and access to technology. This isn’t a reality though is is, many people have no family support etc and there is no safety net anymore. I really hope that he is ok tonight I’m very worried about him.
Today we had a visit from Sky News who are making a programme about DWP related issues, so things were even busier than usual. They appeared shocked at how busy we were today and the extremes of problems that we help people with. I’ve learnt to multi task very well, so have members of the team.
We had six food parcels and some lovely hot food cooked and brought to us by a friend off Facebook named Tina. This food was very welcome because many people haven’t ate nice hot food for a long time.
Ashton Under Lyne now has a full roll out of Universal Credit, so things will no doubt become much worse. I’ll keep you posted about this. I did try and raise awareness about this, but my voice isn’t loud at times but I try.
Here is another example of the stupidity of the DWP system and how they like to keep a claimant on their toes and under their control.
We spoke to an older chap who told us that he had only just started to claim benefits. His claim had gone through after a very long wait and this is an example of exactly what he has had to do this week.
He attended his signing on appointment on Monday, his FIRST one.
He was sent to a ‘careers advice’ course at the Jobcentre on Tuesday… These courses are generally pretty rubbish and if they had listened to him in the first place they would have known that he already had a profession, but just needs a job.
Thursday (today) he had to attend an appointment just to tell them what happened. For goodness sake, that could have been dealt with at his next signing on appointment. Give the chap time to breathe and to actually look for work.
He recieved a letter this morning (Thursday) telling him to attend an appointment, but the letter had two different appointment times on it… He had difficulty getting a correct answer as to when he should attend this appointment.
He said that getting an answer for this was hard, I can believe that. The system is broken, it just doesnt work, departments do not communicate with each other and nor are they making any effort to do so. As a result people are suffering, but hey, the government does not care one jot and nor should we expect them to.
I spoke to a man very briefly who told me that he receives his payments on a special payment card. Thats one to watch out for folks. He hadn’t recieved his usual payment and didn’t have a clue why. They gave him a telephone number that he couldn’t use due to having no phone. I signposted him to another local organisation because he needed extra help for some other issues also. Lovely men, just needing a helping hand.
A young woman said hello, then walked into the Jobcentre. Ten Minutes later she walked out and I asked her if she needed any help. She told me that she had recieved a letter to attend the Jobcentre today and she arrived at the time stated. She informed the front desk, and a member of staff said to her very rudely “what makes you think that YOU have an appointment today” She answered “Because I have a letter” the member of staff then told her that she must return home to get the letter or they wouldn’t aknowledge that she had an appointment. She did just this, but was now late.
More DWP stupidity and a member of staff being pedantic and rude. This isn’t nice, and is bad practice. But thats the norm these days except for the odd nice member of staff.
We spoke to a lovely man and his wife. He had been in the army and was injured so as a result had to leave the army. His wife became his carer and this should have been allowed to continue, however it wasn’t. The DWP told her wrongly that she couldn’t be his carer anymore and that she had to claim Jobseekers Allowance. She was subsequently sanctioned three times as a result. Luckily they spent their time reading about their legal rights etc regarding their benefits and what they are entitled to. She is now her husbands carer again, but the stress of going through all that will never leave them. How dare the DWP do this to them,always arm yourself with the facts if faced with a situation like this. It’s so important to.
Our regaular heckler turned up again today, shouting at us and calling us all scroungers and scumbags whilst waving her umbrella at us all. She targeted John as usual. She was awful, and there is no need for this kind of behaviour. If she doesn’t like us then just walk past, but then again shes told us in the past that she hates all unemployed people, regardless of illness and disability. We shouldn’t have to put up with this. I informed her that I was phoning the police and she walked away rather quickly.
For the person that informed me that we have only been doing this for 3 1/2 months and ONLY hand out food parcels, I suggest that you read my blog correctly. In fact I found a video of us doing this from 2013. We work hard, I work very hard documenting all this and trying to raise awareness as well as writing about it. Please give us some more credit.
A massive thank you to everyone that arrived to help out today, it was lovely to see Roy, Keith and Ashley today as well as Gordon, John and Christine.
We handed out food parcels, warm food, some warm clothes donated by Ria, help, advice, survival guides, solidarity and have comforted people when they were feeling at their lowest. We need to stop and scrap this awful system because it’s failing EVERYONE.
Please read, share, email and talk about my blog. For all the readers and supporters of my blog and the campaign you literally keep me going, its extremely hard work.
This week I’ve attended meetings, had an article published in The Guardian (unpaid), spoke to people on the phone, had an article published in The Morning Star and have been interviewed by Sky News. This is all to raise awareness and I don’t get paid. We need to stop this barbaric system and soon.
Hi folks, please help me to continue with my blog and campaign work. Thank you!